Saturday, March 18, 2017
Christians Act More Like Gaston than Belle Because We Forget We're the Beast
Today I spent a special day with my oldest daughter to celebrate her birthday. It included going to see Beauty and the Beast.
It. Was. Magical.
The new, semi-live-action film added songs from the Broadway version of the story, as well as a few helpful plot points, like the fact that the Enchantress placed a spell on the village, causing them to forget the castle and its prince. The combination of CGI and live-action was gorgeous. The story was a bit more complex than the original, and the characters were much deeper and more complicated.
When we got to the end, DeLaynie diverted her eyes for fear that the Beast would die and all of the palace staff would fade into inanimate objects. I leaned over and whispered, "You want to see this. It's the best part."
There it was, the same scene that I remembered from my childhood, from a time when I was even younger than DeLaynie. It was the scene in which the love of a beautiful woman transformed the gruesome beast into his true form- a prince. (If you've never seen the original film, I apologize for spoiling the ending, but seriously. Where have you been, and what have you been doing?)
I once heard Tim Keller describe this scene in a sermon. He explained that for a Christian all art now points us directly to Christ. Our story is woven into every great story. Our Savior's portrait is painted onto every beautiful canvas. The story of the beast is our story.
We were once like him, literally as ugly as sin. Our humanity had been torn from us by choosing our selfish ways over trusting our Creator. We looked to temporal things instead of the eternal things for which we were made. We traded our humanity for an animal-like craving for satisfaction. We no longer looked like the One who created us. We no longer reflected His image the way we were created to.
But then our Beautiful Savior stepped in and He loved us, and He made us love Him. That love transformed us from the inside-out. It's true that our transformation comes much slower than that of the Beast. It takes a lifetime and seeps into eternity to that first moment when we come face to face with our Beloved. But we know that it is coming, and our pending transformation changes us in the here and now.
Yet, we all too often forget what we once were. We take the love of our Savior as a testament to our beauty instead of His grace, so instead of seeking out those who remain in darkness in order to love them with the love that only Christ can give, we live in fear of the darkness. We attack when the darkness around us comes closer than we would like. We seek to destroy those who have not yet been transformed because instead of seeing the ugliness of sin as a cry for transforming love, we see it as a threat.
We've forgotten who we are. We've forgotten what we once were.
Every Christian is simply a transformed beast.
We needn't fear the darkness. We know that the One who restored us to who we were meant to be will return, and He will restore His whole world to an even greater beauty than the first. Until then, as transformed beasts, our greatest privilege is to reach out to those who do not yet know the radical love of our God that changes us from the inside-out.
We cannot deny the ugliness of sin, or we risk loving without transformation as an end result, cursing those we love to an eternity in their cursed state. We do need to see sin's ugliness for what it is- a curse that can be set right by the love of God, the One who created us to rule beside Him forever. In every beast, there is a potential prince or princess, but denial, fear, or hatred cannot transform them.
Only perfect love can do that.