“Race till the end…it comes from within.” In Chariots of Fire they did portray religious and spiritual messages. Whether it was running for the Lord or Eric not running on the Sabbath to honor the Lord, each displayed the Christian message. Man was not swayed from his belief and showed great discernment. It was said that God made each of us for a purpose and God made them fast. Therefore, winning is not just fun it is to honor him. I feel as though Chariots of Fire did a good job at portraying a particular Christian message. In some Christian films they go over board in trying to communicate the Christian theme and, as a result, push people away. It is as though they shove it down their throats and make it as if the Christian life is corny! In my opinion, most Christian films do not portray a realistic Christian life or family. It is as if the people are too perfect and no one can sway them. In my life it has been quite the contrary. The Christian life is hard and it takes more than oneself to get through it.
So what about the Ten Commandments?
Through the years the interpretations of the Ten Commandments have changed. They have adapted to the society and the decade it is in. So many times people conform the Commandments to fit their life rather than vice versa. It is one thing to attend a service on Sunday, but it is another to truly worship him on Sunday. Yes, most people show up on Sundays and walk through the motions. Did they even listen to the message or was it a social thing for them? Did it mean anything? I feel as though in this day in age we need to start respecting the Commands that the Lord gave to us. They are set in place for a reason and we need to stop taking it lightly. Eric Liddell’s approach to the Sabbath made a good point. I feel as though he maybe took it too far, but if he feels so strongly about it who am I to say it was too far.
Hugh Hudson’s Chariots of Fire is not only a classic movie, but it also has a spiritual message. The film is about two young runners, Liddell and Abrahams, who aspire to run for Britain in the Olympics. Liddell runs for God’s pleasure, while Abraham runs for his own. It is a message of doing all things for God’s glory and not our own.
There is a huge difference between Chariots of Fire and a film like Facing the Giants. Chariots of Fire won 4 Oscars and is considered a classic, while I find it hard to even watch Facing the Giants due to the poor acting. I believe that Chariots of Fire is more effective, when it comes to sharing a Christian message, because it attracts a wider audience of people. The underlying Christian message is not as “in your face”, in Chariots of Fire, as it is in Facing the Giants and so it is more accessible to a non-Christian audience.
In this day and age, it is harder for people to keep the Sabbath because they either have to work or they see Sunday as a day to sleep until the afternoon. Personally, I honor the Sabbath by attending church at Shades Mountain. However, I don’t believe that it is necessary to abstain from activities on Sunday. But if some people want to view honoring the Sabbath in a legalistic way, more power to them.
Some of the religious and/or spiritual messages in Chariots of Fire included messages such as keeping the Sabbath day holy, “finishing the race” and doing everything—even running—for the glory of God. I perceived the movie as effective in communicating important parts of the Christian message. The movie definitely didn’t disguise the message, but it didn’t flaunt it, either.
Compared to a movie such as Fireproof or Facing the Giants, which are obviously intended to communicate Christian messages, I think Chariots of Fire was more effective to a larger group of people. First of all, the quality of the film is incredible, and won several awards for its cinematography. Movies like Fireproof and Facing the Giants had lower budgets, and were therefore poorly made. Secondly, I feel that these types of movies only appeal to the Christian audiences. While these movies are more focused on the message, I think Chariots of Fire reaches a broader audience because of its mainstream appeal.
As for observing the Sabbath, this is something that my friends and I have actually been talking about lately. Very few of us strictly observe the Sabbath. I know that Sundays can often be the most hectic day of the week for many people, including me. I think that God wanted (wants) us to keep the Sabbath for our own sakes. He knows that we need time to just be, and to rest and re-energize for the coming week. But I’m not sure where I would draw the line from a legalistic view such as Eric Liddell’s. I admire his convictions, but I don’t know if I would have thought twice about running on a Sunday.
As with all laws in the Bible, I think we as Christians should try our hardest to keep the Sabbath holy. But we are sure to fall short.
Through the life of Eric Lidell, Chariots of Fire presents the message that there is something more important than our own personal goals. The kingdom and laws of God are far above those of man. Also, we must use the talents that God has given us to bring Him glory in our life. In the case of Eric, he uses his running as a platform to preach the Gospel. I believe the director did want these messages to be picked up by viewers, though it probably wasn’t the main reason for making the movie.
Unlike Chariots of Fire, Facing The Giants is a movie that is made with the sole intention of pushing a Christian message. It seems to me that Chariots is clearly a more wide-reaching story and therefore a more effective platform for an ideal. The public that is not interested in Christianity will not watch Facing the Giants because of the poor film quality and cheesy script writing. However, many of these people would be willing to go see Chariots and unknowingly have these same ideas presented to them.
Personally I think that God does command us to set apart a day to rest and grow in Him. Although, I do not believe that we are to do absolutely nothing on the Sabbath. I can admire Eric Lidell for standing on what he believed God had called him do, but I think he was being slightly legalistic in his views. Rather, Christians should seek to stand on what they believe in as Eric did, while keeping an open mind to new interpretations of the law, etc.
It seems to me that of the many religious messages relayed in Chariots of Fire, some of the main ideas include: placing pleasing God above all other pursuits, using your God-given gifts to please the Lord and to stand firm in your righteous convictions despite strong opposition.
I believe it must have been the intention of the director to convey these messages because in the case of runner Eric Liddell, these are the decisions he actually made. Director Hugh Hudson had to acknowledge them for historical purposes if for no other reason, and the film is highly effective in communicating these ideas in a moving way.
Unlike the explicitly Christian film Fireproof, Chariots of Fire seems like it would be more palatable to an audience with members of various religious affiliations. It is more mainstream in that way. However, both films communicate the message that to pursue the Biblical ideal in the midst of difficult situations is pleasing to God.
Between the two, Chariots of Fire most likely is more effective in conveying a Christian message for two reasons: it is more subtle than Fireproof, a film which is about as heavy-handed as the ending of any episode of Touched by An Angel, and it is a quality film the likes of which Fireproof’’s acting, cinematography, etc. does not come close to.
In Chariots of Fire, Liddell refuses to run a preliminary race for the Olympics because it takes place on a Sunday. This lack of legalistic adherence to the Ten Commandments in 2010, in my opinion, is mainly due to the many demands on a modern Christian’s time. To lose a whole day of productivity would have real professional/career-related consequences for many.
To simply attend a worship service on Sunday is not in itself enough to keep the Sabbath “holy,” as the Bible commands. However, in today’s culture, it is considered okay for Christians to disregard commandments that might get in the way of their professional or capitalistic interests. After all, God wants a Christian to work hard and provide for his/her family, right? However, overall I think this lack of obedience to the laws Christians claim their God has laid out for them appears to non-Christians as though Christians aren’t totally buying in to what they’re selling. If all Christians followed Liddell’s lead, this would no longer be the case, and therefore I think his legalistic approach to the Ten Commandments should be the Christian ideal.
Chariots of Fire presents a spiritual/religious message that not only encourages but exemplifies “racing for God.” The message I received from this movie was that when you “run” with faith you can accomplish anything you set your mind to. The directors conveyed this message and other spiritual messages clearly by including things about the Sabbath and by portraying Eric Liddell as a good and whole person, sticking to his virtues and putting his primary loyalty to the Lord. In some ways Chariots of Fire swayed from its meaningful message and focused too much on not running on the Sabbath, a stance that some find strange and don’t understand. However, as the movie goes on it is clear as to what the message truly is.
Chariots of Fire attracts all people, Christian and non-Christian. I feel that this aspect makes the movie more effective than a classified “Christian film.” Films like Chariots of Fire are able to reach beyond a Christian audience and touch those in need. Another example of a film that is able to touch an audience beyond the Christian genre is Chronicles of Narnia. This movie was viewed by millions, old and young, and was a box office hit that presented a Christian message that potentially reached millions of people. Whether viewers wanted to or not, they were given a message of restoration and a way of seeing and hearing the truth.
Observing the Sabbath is an uncommon action among many Christians today. I feel that observing the Sabbath is uncommon in today’s world because of the busyness that surrounds us all. I don’t feel that it is necessarily a bad thing. I think that Christianity is defined by our relationship with God and how we honor him spiritually, not by a set of arbitrary rules. Everyone makes mistakes. In addition, I don’t feel that we as Christians voluntarily disregard the 10 commandments. I feel that many of the commandments are obeyed, but in one’s own personal way and personal relationship with God, not necessarily taken in such a legalistic manner. I think that Eric Liddell’s approach to the Sabbath is his personal decision to comprise on the principle. I think that Christians should look at the bigger picture and see that his primary loyalty was to the Lord and not to the principle.
There were two ever-present religious messages in Chariots of Fire; to use the gifts God has given you to glorify Him and keep holy the Sabbath. I definitely think it was the intention of the director to convey these messages – it created the entire story line of the movie. I am still a little undecided about whether the movie is effective in communicating these messages. I think at one time it probably was effective; it won Best Picture and three other Oscars in 1982. I just think it is a bit outdated. I found Chariots of Fire to be pretty boring (it’s just slow), not to mention the fact that sports-fans of the 21st century would not understand the religious implications of sitting out of a race in the OLYMPICS (the greatest display of athletic prowess in the world).
Chariots of Fire can be compared to the Spider-Man movies (yes, Spider-Man). Many people don’t realize it because it is based on a comic book series but Spider-Man has a deeply spiritual message. The main theme of Spider-Man is extremely comparable to the theme of Chariots of Fire. The theme of Spider-Man is that with great power comes great responsibility or as Jesus said, “To whom much has been given, much is expected,” and (one of) the theme(s) of Chariots of Fire is to use the gifts God has given to glorify Him (Eric Liddell’s argument for competing in the Olympics). In both movies the message is communicated in a less than perfect way; in Chariots of Fire it is communicated in a way so over-the-top it is not understandable to today’s society and in Spider-Man it is communicated so inconspicuously that it is unrecognizable.
The reason many Christians do not observe the Sabbath is because in this day and age it is completely unrealistic. I think attending a worship service during the week qualifies as keeping the Sabbath holy. If everyone stopped everything they were doing on Sundays, the world (or maybe just the United States) would shut down; medical emergencies would go unanswered, businesses would only have 6 days of operation, 6 days to make money. I think if a select few Christians, such as Eric Liddell, want to go ahead and honor the Sabbath to it’s full extent, good for them – I’m going to sit this one out.