Leather recliner, large popcorn, and over two years of waiting led to this moment. I was ready to experience afresh and anew a “tale as old as time”. The story of Beauty and the Beast!
I have always loved Disney movies. And Beauty and the Beast is arguably my favorite. It was the first movie my mom remembers me watching as I screamed bloody murder at the age of 2 and was terrified by the Beast. But God brought reconciliation as I was given a stuffed animal Beast and it soon became my favorite movie, and remains a favorite to this day.
I was raised a Disney kid. Singing the songs and drinking the Disney delights of friendship, follow your heart, and true love. It was a great childhood. And probably a reason I remain a hopeless romantic to this day. But I am no longer a child. And while I still hope and dream big things. Life has a way of bringing disappointments, pain, and destroying the delights, hopes, and dreams of our youth. I wish that was not true. I wish we lived in a world where Aladdin and Jasmine did not have marriage problems, Aurora did not struggle with abandonment issues, and it was only happy endings for Beauty and her Beast. But that is not the world we live in. At least not the one I live in. So where is the hope? Who is the hero? And what does it mean to have a happy ending?
I believe we find all of those in Jesus. Yes, I jumped from Disney to Jesus but humor me. As a ferocious follower of Jesus I believe that at the bottom of every truth, emotion, and human desire is a scream and hunger for the perfect love and person of Jesus. That is my thesis, that it all comes #Back2Jesus!
So as I drove home from the movie and saw it again the next day. (Yep, twice on opening weekend.) I started reflecting on the themes of the movie and how many of them find their perfect yes in Jesus (2 Corinthians 1:20)!
More than this Provincial life!
The opening scenes of Beauty and the Beast are stunning. A beautiful girl in a small town of people who do not understand. Envious of her charm, beauty, and spirit she is unique. “She really is a funny girl.”
Our world is hard on people who are different, who swim against the current and want bigger things for their life. We all can identify with this. The desire to belong, and to be the real you. To live a life bigger than life itself. You are deceiving yourself if you do not live in that tension. How can I be me, be more, and still belong?
Belle is living in that tension and desires to live bigger. “There must be more,” and for Christ followers, there is. I believe we learn from the Bible that every human being longs for more than this world can provide. To invest in the eternal. It is programmed into us. We have a void in our hearts only God can fill (Eccl 3:11). And only in Jesus can we live a life bigger than life itself. We can live for eternity. We can live bigger because of Jesus!
Beauty on the Inside
The prince is turned into a beast at the beginning of the story because he fails to recognize that appearances can be deceptive. That looks can be deceiving. You can be pretty on the surface but ugly underneath. Clean on the outside, but dirty on the inside. You can be a whitewashed tomb (Matthew 23:27).
Because of sin humanity is rotten to the core. Jeremiah 17:9 says “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” But all is not lost. For in Jesus, because of His finished work on the cross and the resurrection, we can have a new heart. Ephesians 2 declares that we were dead, tapped out, done. But God made us alive together with Christ! God loved us, and Jesus died for us when we were ugly on the inside, without hope, and without a future. We were dead, and He made us alive. Jesus died that God would receive the glory, and you and I could experience a relationship with the Father. That is the Gospel. “The Gospel is, Jesus in my place.” He took my ugliness, my sin, and paid for it on the cross, and gave me His righteousness. That is a beautiful story. And God gets the glory!
A Tale as Old as Time
The pursuit. That is what love is all about? Correct? This theme from Beauty and the Beast is arguably the biggest in the film and one of the most exciting for our Christian walk as well. It is at the heart of the movie as Belle and the Beast dance in the ballroom to one of the most beautiful songs ever written in movie history. #TheFeels are real… Just listen and tell me I am wrong if you have forgotten.
It is a beautiful song. Filled with romantic fantasies of love, some truths, and some lies to say the least. But what I have treasured in this theme is a pursuit as old as time. I am talking about God’s pursuit of us.
You see, this song talks about love and makes the claim that as long as time has existed love has as well. I believe that is true; but only because God loved us before He even created us. Ephesians 1:4 says that if we are in Christ we were loved by God before He even created the world.
“4 even as He chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.”
This means God’s pursuit of us existed before creation and maybe even before time. I am not a studied theologian and was not around when God created time. But if it is the case and He did love us before He created time and clearly from this verse at least before the foundations of the earth, that is beyond romantic! LOL!! But really, that should blow our minds. God was pursuing us and loving us before he created the world. #MindBlown! And that is not all. Ephesians also mentions that God was pursuing and loving us through Jesus. That means Jesus was pursuing us and destined to die before the world was even created. That is a Big Love! That is Big News.
Truly, truly, His pursuit is relentless, a tale as old as time, and “certain as the” Son. 😉
The rose in Beauty and the Beast is the final theme I will reflect on here. It is a signature of the movie, and a sign of Hope! A beacon of promise, and a picture of our hearts. The beast protects his at all costs. Not only his rose, but also his heart. He is quick to hope that Belle will be the one but lives guarded and wonders if Belle could ever actually love him because he does not feel worthy of her love.
Love and hope are crazy things. Nothing will cause you more pain or joy in life than those two emotions. Hope grows slowly, and love is a gift that can never be earned, only given. Life’s deepest disappointments and greatest joys are often linked to these emotions. When they are ripped from us, not reciprocated, or placed in the wrong things or people we hurt deeply. And just like we see in the movie; both emotions can feel like a curse. Our heart hopes, loves, gets wounded, we live guarded, our heart grows cold, and we make it harder to let hope or love grow again. (At least that is part of my story.)
But love can grow again. Because God can restore, and perfect Love and Hope are found in Jesus. I remembered this as I drove home from the theatre and God reminded me of a sermon clip about a different rose, a rose that shouts about the perfect love of Jesus.
You see, as you go through life you will have moments of deep pain and intense darkness. You will experience seasons where sin will scar and destroy your heart. It may be your sin, or the sin of others. It may be your fault, or it might not. But your heart will take damage and because of the guilt and shame placed upon us by ourselves and the devil we live enslaved and see ourselves as unredeemable. We feel unworthy of God’s love and can hardly wrap our minds around the fact that Jesus can save us, let alone forgive us, and make us new (2 Corinthians 5:17). But perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18)! You can never out sin the Grace of God (Romans 5:20)! And when it comes to relationships with others, love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8).
Often we can start to see ourselves as damaged and beyond repair. Just like the Beast we can hardly believe someone would love us. And even if they do, we see ourselves as unworthy and not deserving of that love. We convince ourselves that “I am not worthy of Love, and I will never be worthy.” But that is a lie. Because love is a gift. Never earned. And God is the one who defines our worth. So you can be made worthy, and you are loved. That message is real, and the Gospel shouts it!
Please watch this clip and hear me clearly. Jesus loves you! And desires all of you regardless of your damage and the voices that condemn you.
JESUS wants the ROSE!!! Whoever you are. And however dirty you feel from sin. Jesus is big enough. You can be clean. You can be free. Jesus loves you, and He will forgive you. He alone can turn your hurt into healing, and pain into power. He is relentlessly pursuing you. But you must turn and run to him. You have to let Him in.
A theme of the movie is that love is not love unless it is freely given. That is so true. God has chosen to love us. He has put His offer on the table, wrote a love letter called the Bible, and signed it with the blood of His son. But we must choose Him back. He will not force us to love Him. But He is the one your soul is longing for. The one you are searching for.
So if you are running from God, STOP! Come to Jesus. If you are trying to clean up your act and be worthy of God’s love, STOP! Come to Jesus. Come to Jesus now! Don’t wait!! “Jesus loves you where you are, as you are, but He loves you too much to leave you there!” So chuck dignity and pride out the window and run. Drop the years of shame and guilt and run. Run to the savior who loves you, who died for you, and who waits with with open arms!
You can be clean! Jesus wants the Rose!!!
I pray the Love of Jesus reaches your heart. And please allow these songs wash over your soul as you rest in the loving embrace of Jesus. Perhaps, for the first time!