Of all the talks I'm asked to give, my favorite is "Everything Leads to Jesus." I'll ask my audience to place items in a box without my knowledge, and later, I will pull those items out one at a time and present the Gospel from them. I've found musical instruments, a checkbook, toy robots, and even a rock. However, I've always been successful in bringing the item to my Savior, and I know that I always will be. He wants me to speak His name. He wants me to share His love. He wants me to be intentional in turning everyday conversations to His grace.
When Christians were up in arms over the Harry Potter franchise coming out, I was simply impressed with the number of children wanting to read! I thought, "Good for J. K. Rowling!" On my sister's recommendation, I read the first book and was immediately hooked. Not only did Rowling create heart-felt characters, but she also laid a perfect groundwork for sharing the Gospel. Harry is alive and untouchable by the evil one because of the sacrificial love of his mother. She laid down her life for him. Her blood covered him. All throughout the series, Harry is reminded that it is love that separates him from the bad guy, Voldemort.
Love separates me. The blood of my Savior covers me and makes me untouchable to the evil one. Satan cannot have me because Jesus died for me. He willingly laid down His life for me. The correlation between the Gospel and Harry Potter is evident and easy to use.
Today, Jackson, Chloe and I went to see "Beauty and the Beast." I have read all the outcries that have been written. I have scrolled right past all the "Boycott Disney" posts on Facebook knowing full well that I would be going on opening day. Seriously! Who doesn't absolutely adore a book-loving heroine who will sacrifice herself for her daddy?! I remember the character Lefou as infatuated with Gaston. He did everything for that conceited, prideful, self-absorbed man. Lefou withstood all the bullying and abuse that Gaston threw his way, and stayed for more. Even as a young girl, I thought it was odd behavior for a man. Today, Lefou was exactly the character I remember with a little more gumption added into the mix. At the end of the story, he recognized the "bad" in Gaston and separated himself by helping to save the castle.
While others are calling for a boycott, I'm going to call for less judgment and more love through sharing the Gospel, and there are many ways to use "Beauty and the Beast" to do so. Belle sacrificed herself out of love for her daddy, realized the importance of seeing the real person on the inside over the rough exterior, and understood the impact of words.
John 15:13 says, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." Belle laid down her life for her father's. She willingly traded places with him in the Beast's cage. She didn't know the Beast's backstory. She didn't know the good that would come from her actions. She only knew that the love she had for her father was too great to allow him to die.
People say, "Actions speak louder than words." However, a former sixth grade student once said, "Actions give volume to our words." I have always loved that interpretation. We can say we love people all we want, but if all people hear and see is judgment and boycotts then our words of love are muted. Let's sacrifice ourselves to share God's love. Let's sacrifice our righteous indignation to embrace opportunities to build His Kingdom. Let's lay down the hatred in order to offer His grace, mercy, and forgiveness. Remember, Jesus shared a meal with a sinner in the home of that sinner. How can we reach the world if we are not willing to befriend the world?
Once Belle sacrificed her life for her father's, she was faced with another choice. Judge the Beast based on his exterior, or take a moment to see beyond. I Samuel 16:7 says, "...man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart." Belle was intrigued with stories; she loved books; she loved words. Listening to the Beast's story made him real to her and not just a terrifying monster from which to cower. Belle allowed herself to know the inner beast and found compassion for his pain. Because she was able to see his heart she was able to love him. I am so very thankful that God is able to see my heart, to see my true self and love me in spite of it all.
After sacrificing herself for her father and looking beyond the rough exterior of the Beast, Belle spoke the very words which had the greatest impact in the story. She said, "I love you." She spoke the words we all knew to be true. Her actions throughout the story told us she loved him. She saved him. She nursed him. She laughed with him. She listened to him. She taught him. She learned from him. She returned for him. She fought with him. Her life spoke of love, but it was the power in the spoken words that ended the curse.
Romans 10:14 says, "How can people call on Him unless they believe in Him? How can they believe in Him unless they hear about Him? And how can they hear about Him unless someone tells them?" Someone has to TELL them. Someone has to use words to express the reasons for their actions. You can live a righteous life and be the best person in the world, but if you never tell anyone why you live as you do no one will ever know Jesus. At some point, someone HAS to open their mouth and speak His name.
I encourage every single one of you to go watch "Beauty and the Beast," and then talk about it with your neighbors, co-workers, facebook friends, and family. Discuss the ridiculous, frivolous boycott. Elaborate on the incredible soundtrack. Gush over the beautiful costumes. In all of the talk though, be sure you turn the conversation to Jesus. Be sure you parallel the plot of Belle and the prince to the greatest story ever told.