First off, I highly encourage everyone to watch The Bible miniseries on the History Channel on Sunday nights at 8 p.m. through Easter Sunday night, March 31. Judging from the first episode, Mark Burnett and Roma Downey have done an outstanding job producing the series, which topped every other show that night with 13 million views during the two-hour slot (you can check History Channel for re-broadcasts of the first episode).
The show was highly entertaining and at the same time stuck to the core of the Bible's story. I know that some Christians were upset with some of the embellishments (yes, the angels-turned-ninjas take at Sodom was, er, a little different). To be honest, all major TV and movies with biblical themes will have some sort of embellishments—even Cecil B. DeMille's venerable epic The Ten Commandments has some “innovations” in the script. But I believe the series can nonetheless spark a major interest in people turning to the Bible. I was also encouraged hearing of families that watched The Bible together, using it to teach the children, with parents answering their questions about what they saw.
Churches (including my home church) are linking up with the show by presenting messages based on each episode, and showing clips from the series—encouraging the faith of believers and sparking interest among those who may not know the Bible.
Christians need to do two more things with such an opportunity in sparking a vast interest in the Bible: the first is pray, especially for a lasting impact on hearts. We can probably all remember people who were greatly affected by previous great shows, the most recent example being The Passion of the Christ. But we can probably also remember some of those same people who claimed the movie changed them—and sadly watching them never follow through with a commitment to Jesus. I also remember seeing this during the showing of another great TV special from the 70s, Jesus of Nazareth. Speaking of which, there are several reliable reports that John Lennon became a Christian after watching that show in 1977. Sadly, apparently for a variety of reasons, his faith was short-lived. Nonetheless, The Bible, like Jesus of Nazareth and other quality Bible-themed shows, can bring the truth of Jesus right into the living rooms of people who wouldn't otherwise turn on Christian TV stations. We need to fervently pray for a continued impact on many lives, especially those we personally know who are watching and being impacted by the show's message.
Secondly, and most important, we need to stay alert for open doors, to discuss the series with others who may be watching—which can lead to sharing the truth of Jesus with them, and praying for them. Even the aforementioned “embellishments” can spark discussion on what the Bible actual says—and can provide a catalyst for getting deeper into the truths of God's Word. We can take hold of the promise that God's Word never comes back void (Isaiah 55:11), and trust that the Holy Spirit will lead us as we share from the Bible, His Word of Life.