Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Disney Shorts

Usually, when I'm putting together these posts, I take whole movies and really pick them apart, but I thought I'd do something a little different this time. Instead of dissecting a single film, I just want to share some brief devotional thoughts based on three popular Disney movies. You can read these all at once or spread them out, but since they're all short Disney-related segments, I've bundled them together in this neat little combo pack for you!


The first thing I want to share comes from the Disney classic, Cinderella. The movie's leading lady gives us a wonderful example of someone who is loving towards animals, kind towards those who mistreat her, and patient in the midst of persecution. All of these are excellent qualities to have - qualities the Bible would clearly support (see Proverbs 12:10; Romans 12:14; and Psalm 37:7). But have you ever wondered how that was possible - I mean, given all that Cinderella's step-mother and sisters put her through?

Cinderella wakes up to new hope every morning
The answer is actually given at the very beginning of the movie. The narrator tells us about the death of Cinderella's father, how she came to be in the custody of her step-mother, and how she was "abused, humiliated, and finally forced to become a servant in her own house," but the narrator goes on to say:
"And yet, through it all, Cinderella remained ever gentle and kind, for with each dawn, she found new hope that someday her dreams of happiness would come true."
Cinderella was able to endure so much because she had hope! And hope is a beautiful thing. In fact, I don't know how you can live without hope! We all need something to look forward to - especially when life gets tough - because when you give up on hope, that's when you give up on life. But if you have hope - and the stronger the reason for that hope - the more you will begin to look at your problems as only temporary, and that certainly makes things more bearable!

So what do we have to hope in? Cinderella only hoped that someday she would be happy, but those who follow Christ have an even greater hope! We have a hope that our souls will be saved as our sins are forgiven. We have a hope for a brighter day, when Christ will come to reward his people for their faithful service. We have a hope for a day when we'll see our loved ones who have gone on before us, when we'll have new bodies free from pain and defect, when there will finally be peace on earth... And we have a great reason for this hope, because God has promised us this and so much more, and he has already given us a down-payment on his promises by sending his Spirit to live within us! (see Ephesians 1:3-11)

If life isn't going the way you'd like it to right now, don't worry - God is bigger than all your problems! Put your faith in Jesus, and remember that this is all temporary. No matter how bad things might get, if you have made things right with Jesus, you can trust him to see you through!

And if you haven't yet begun a relationship with Jesus Christ, there's no greater time than the present! Pray and ask him to help you today, and trust him to see you through whatever struggles are in your life. If your trust is in him, you can always depend on him to be there!


2007's Meet the Robinsons is a far-out tale about time-traveling kids on a mission to track down a mysterious super-villain in a bowler hat... but the lessons taught in this flick are timeless.

When you point a finger at someone else,
there are always three fingers pointing back at yourself!
When the little boy, Lewis, finally meets "Bowler Hat Guy" face-to-face about 3/4 of the way through the movie, he discovers that they share a past. The bad guy had once been Lewis' roommate at an orphanage - the two had once been friends - but after Lewis kept his friend, Goob, awake all night while he worked on a science project, Goob missed catching a fly ball at a baseball game the next day, and this mishap kept Goob from being adopted - or at least, so he thought. After that, Goob developed hard feelings toward Lewis, and this is what led him to become a villain when he grew up, so he could get his revenge on Lewis' future family!

It's still a somewhat fantastical tale, but one thing it highlights well is the importance of thinking about how others will be affected by your behavior. Sometimes, you never know how one word or deed can change a person's day - or even the rest of their life - because it causes them to look at life differently. Lewis wasn't doing anything intentionally wrong by working hard on his science project, but he failed to consider how his actions might affect his roommate. And so, the Bible reminds us to think about the consequences before we speak or act (see, for instance, the entire book of Proverbs!).

At the same time, the movie teaches us that you can't just blame your life on the way other people treat you. That seems to be a popular idea in modern psychology. Everyone wants to blame their parents or somebody else for the things that go wrong in their lives, but this is really nothing new. Go all the way back to the first sin in Genesis 3, and what do you see? Adam blamed Eve, and Eve blamed the serpent. Nobody likes to take responsibility for their own attitudes and mistakes! But Lewis hits the nail on the head when he during his big confrontation with grown-up Goob. First he apologizes and says he had no idea how he had hurt his friend, but then he adds:
"I'm sorry your life turned out so bad, but don't blame me. You messed it up yourself! You just focused on the bad stuff, when all you had to do was... let go of the past and keep moving forward."
Owning up to the way you've hurt someone is important (Matthew 5:23-24). But sometimes the person who wronged you may never apologize for what they've done - they may not even realize or accept that they have hurt you. You can't control that. What you can control is how you respond to what they've done. You can also control whether or not you own up to your own mistakes. I'm reminded of the apostle Paul, who talked about the struggle to become more holy by saying:
"Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on towards the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus."
- Philippians 3:12-14 (emphasis added)
Do you spend enough time thinking through the consequences before you speak and act, or do you need to do a better job?

Do you need to own up to something today and make it right with someone you've wronged?

What do you need to let go of in your past so that you can press on and be the better person that Christ is calling you to be?

In Disney's The Little Mermaid, Ariel the mermaid is infatuated with humans, but no one else in her underwater kingdom thinks she should associate with them. They say it's dangerous, but she's determined to find out for herself. At one point, knowing how Ariel feels, Sebastian the crab tries to convince her by singing the now-famous song about how life is much better "Under the Sea". Just before he sings the song, as the music is starting, Sebastian gives her this warning: "Ariel, listen to me. The human world? It's a mess!"

I shared this picture of Sebastian's warning on the
Truth Without Excuse Facebook page a few weeks ago
What a truth that is! 

We live in a world messed up by sickness and pain and death - by wars and threats of war - by violent crimes, murder, thefts, abuse - a world messed up by drug abuse and alcoholism...

The list can just go on and on, all the ways we hurt one another, and all the terrible things that can happen to a person through no fault of their own!

But the Bible makes it clear that none of this was God's original desire. God designed us to live in a perfect world, but sin messed it up (Genesis 3), and now we live in a world that is constantly deteriorating. Things will continue in this downward spiral until the day when Christ returns to make things right and we see the creation of a new heaven and a new earth (Romans 8:18-25; Revelation 21:1-5).

If Sebastian was right, though, does that mean we should do as he says, and separate ourselves entirely from the rest of the world? Should Christians run off to live in monasteries and refuse to have anything to do with the rest of humanity? No, the Bible tells us that we ought to still be "part of this world" (as Ariel puts it). We are to live in the world, even though we should not live the same sinful way the rest of the world lives. Jesus doesn't call us to the one extreme, to "Go and cut yourselves off from society", or to the other extreme, to "Go and be just like everyone else". Rather, Jesus calls us to "Go and sin no more" (John 8:11) and to "Go and make disciples" (Matthew 28:19-20).

The human world is a messed up place, but that's no reason to avoid it. It's all the more reason for us to be here, to point to Jesus, so we might possibly give others a greater reason for faith, hope and love!


No matter what your kids watch (or no matter what you watch), I hope this post inspires you to keep looking for those little teaching moments that so often pop up. I'd also love to hear about any of the points that have stood out to you from a favorite movie or TV show. Feel free to share your examples in the comments section below, or come share them on our Facebook page!

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