Do You Want To Build A Snowman?
All truth is Gods truth. The fingerprints of God are everywhere. Everything, when we have eyes to see, points toward the divine. In every story that moves us, we will see reflections of the Ultimate Story, hear echoes of the great story teller: the Love Story of Gods scandalous affection for His rebellious creation. And so, we step into one of the most popular stories these days and look for redemptive elements.
Disclaimer: Hollywood is not inspired. Hollywood is not trying to point us toward Christ. Sometimes they are doing the opposite. If we tread carefully, culture can be redeemed. Redemption is, after all, the work of God.
It starts with an amazing opening. A healthy loving family of privilege. Not arrogant, helping, kind, considerate. We discover that the little princess Elsa has a unique ability to control and manipulate cold, but it gets bad early when an accident to protect the little sister (Anna) turns into a near death experience. A Troll heals Anna tells them all that FEAR is bad. The father's solution is to conceal, don't feel.
In Frozen, fear is the real villain, defeated in the last seconds of the last scene. Fear causes a promising and powerful young princess to become isolated. Take a good thing (Elsa's super powers) and add fear to and it goes toxic. Take a Bad thing (Prince Hans desire for power) and add fear to it and it gets worse. Good + Fear = Bad. Bad + Fear = Worse. Some of us create the thing we are afraid of through sin. Some of are handed the thing to be afraid of through experiences. Regardless, fear creates behaviors.
Fear is an incredible power for evil. If your stuck in fear today, or if you've felt that kind of anxiety: God wants to, can and will set you free! Of course, students of the Bible would know that the bible says that fear is a good thing. Proverbs says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. There is a range of meaning for Fear:
Higher Fear - awe and reverence
Lower Fear - dread and anxiety
Fear turned Inward is bad. Fear turned Outward is bad. Fear turned Upward is good. Turn your fear upward. You need to fear something otherwise we become a god unto ourselves. When you Fear God, everything else fades into a far distant second.
The Loss of a Loved One
Frozen, great little movie. Why do some stories resonate so strongly with us? The story of redemption strikes a chord in us. The story of reconciliation; the story of love. These are not the residue of some some crude primal evolutionary themes. This is the echo of the voice of God.
This week, we focus on an event in the movie that is an incredibly significant event but isn't given much screen time. We have plenty singing trolls & a snow monster. Plenty of love-inspired chases. Yet this one event, which is so formational doesn't get much story. That event is the death of both parents.
We respect the passing of our loved ones. People used to stop and let the funeral procession pass. Now, we have next to no time to grieve. It's showing up. People are having a very hard time processing. Ulcers. Divorces. Getting angry with our kids. Depression.
The one grieving feels → despair, → anxiety, helplessness, aggression, and feelings of guilt. No wonder no one wants to mourn. But the alternative is no better. The loved one is not honored. Life is not respected. That which is temporary takes precedence over that which is permanent. Society doesn't give us the time for that. Too much talk of 'being strong'. "Get over it."
Garbage! Teach them how to grieve. Cry! Hold your son; hold your daughter and cry!! Society is devaluing mourning. Culture is reducing the margin for mourning. Frozen reflects that. Our culture is telling us, even in the children's stories, this is what we have to do. Three years later we just go on. Three years later we can begin our story.
The biggest most important most significant part of our story is not on this side of heaven. It is on the other. You're not building a monument here, your living in a tent. When is the last time you made time to grieve? To allow yourself to remember loved ones, or talk about a departed one with family?
Grieve. Jesus cries with you. Jesus believes in life. Jesus hates death. That's why He went to the cross to defeat it.
Love is an Open Door
Prince Hans and the beautiful Ana have met and fallen in love in a matter of hours. They're about ready to walk into a lifelong committmen, for better or worse before God and man. Sister says NO! Big Sister is not feeling, she's thinking. Little sister provokes big sister and inadvertently sets off the curse of an eternal winter. Oops.
Love Blinds. Foolishness turns its back on wise council. Good advice is to be heeded when making lifelong decisions. SPOILER ALERT: Elsa is right.
Moms and dads we say to our children, in our hyper-romanticized culture: “Follow your heart.” “Your heart will light the way.” Let me tell you about the heart!
Proverbs 20:9 (NIV)
Who can say, “I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and without sin”?
Psalms 19:12 (NLT)
How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart? Cleanse me from these hidden faults.
Proverbs 21:2 (NIV)
All a man’s ways seem right to him, but the LORD weighs the heart.
Even love can be corrupted. There are lots of examples of bad love. People have bizarre fetishes that are destructive. People have desires and urges that are immoral. Spouses are unfaithful. Guess what, if you follow your heart, you may end up in: multiple divorces, multiple child support, multiple broken hearts.
On the outside we say that's sick. Why, because it isn't what you like or desire? Guess what? So much of what we call normal God is grossed out by. We have got to measure our lives not by what we think, but by what God thinks. The whole counsel of God is what you and I need in order to make wise and godly decisions.
Ana followed her heart - all the way from the north mountain back to her castle and Prince Hans. And then she realized how wrong her heart had been. Some of you followed your hearts into relationships that you were sure were forever. Some of you ignored the council of others to do so. Some of you regret those decisions.
Love JUDGES. Love makes good decisions. Love says NO! Love is disciplined. Love hates the opposite of everything it loves. God hates stuff. He hates sin! He hates your sin! And He judges it. If you are doing life without a faith in Jesus, who, by Gods grace, pays the fines and penalty for all your hearts sinfulness, you are headed toward an eternity of judgment. Get out from under that. Not by self improving, but by self surrender.
Let It Go
Sociological and the theological; two lenses which will have completely different takes on the song. One will be in favor of the message of the song, the other will have some strong criticisms.
“Let It Go” - the anthem of a girl who was repressed her whole life. Told that who she is was wrong; that she needed to hide who she really was. Instead of repressive, society need to be permissive. It's in that moment that Elsa finds her joy, her power, her true identity. The problem is: Restraint is good!
In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.
When people do not accept divine guidance, they run wild. But whoever obeys the law is joyful.
“No Restraint” does not equal freedom. “No restraint” equals chaos. Chaos brings destruction. Why? The human heart doesn't float - it sinks. A Christ surrendered heart has the capacity to do good. Restraint does not equal oppression. Oppression is condemned. Restraint is commended. So don't “let it go.” Don't let every part of who you are run free and wild. Only the heart that is surrendered to Christ can be trusted to be free. Which brings us to part two...
In Old Testament law, there are lots of rules - many biblical. Then, several hundred extra biblical to avoid the near occasion to sin. People began to condemn one another. Certain groups lived with greater restraint and then were judgmental and self righteous. The rules, although biblical, had been hijacked by the self righteous, self rationalizing, self exalting human heart. Rules highlight our sinfulness. Our breaking of the law reveals our judgement. So here is the theological significance of “Let it Go”:
2 Corinthians 3:7-17 [click to read extermally]
We are free in Christ! We are free to run. We are free to dance. In that regard we can “Let it Go.” No more trying to toe the law, make the grade, or attain the righteousness of man by works. No more straining to do the right thing. We enjoy freedom in Christ. POWERFUL COMBINATION!!
If you do try to toe the rules line, you'll just feel like Elsa; never measuring up. Casting off restraint actually leads to another bondage - a bondage to sin. A sentence of eternal death. Freedom in Christ is superior to trying to measure up to rules. The rules only continually show our inability to measure up. The rules highlight our failures. We need Christ.
For the First Time in Forever
Hollywood is trying to woo us into a movie theater, but God is trying to woo us into His kingdom by reminding us what we have been created for.
Frozen has a very powerful theme - a formula that makes it resonate with us. Becauses it mirrors the macro story of the gospel. God created the universe in purity. Everything he created was good and as it should be. But we welcomed sin. We knew what the rules were, and yet we chose to deny them. Man became curesed. For the first time, there would be death. But Jesus couldn't stand the idea of us entering into eternity with a curse, so he made a way in Jesus. Heaven and earth come together in the ultimate redemption. Salvation is here. Anna is waiting for the gates to be finally opened. Elsa wanting finally to be whole. Salvation is here, but not consumated. We are in a time of waiting. Longing for a better time. Stepping into that betterness.
Something isn't right in this world. Before Christ, we were fairy oblivious. We thought that this ache was simply a desire to experience the American dream. After Christ, you began to see that things really were hopeless. Jesus is the hope of the world Jesus is the remedy. Jesus is the antidote. That is why our Vital Pursuit is to Extend the Gospel. That is why our Personal Rhythm is to Pursue the Mission. Our mission is to “Give every man, woman, and child repeated opportunities to see hear and respond to the gospel and become fully devoted followers of Christ."
In the movie 47 Ronin, they say “When there is a miscarriage of justice, the world is out of balance.” The whole of planet earth is a little bit off kilter. And for us as individual souls surrendered to Christ, Paul says this:
2 Corinthians 5:2-4
2 Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, 3 because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. 4 For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.
We get glimpses of glory in worship, in community, in forgiveness, in generosity; but they are just glimpses. They are the punctuation in a difficult and cursed world. But what those of us who really know and long after Jesus? Who really seek the kingdom? We say, “Come quickly Lord.” “For the first time in forever” the song says. Finally! We've waited. We've longed for this. Hoped for this. Anticipated this. Dreamed about this.
What are you longing for? Are you longing for a temporary fix? A promotion? Job change? Diploma? Degree? Husband or wife? Boyfriend or girlfriend? Your hopes are too small. Your bar is too low.
Revelation 21:3-6 [click to read extermally]
Revelation 19:6-9 [click to read extermally]
Have you noticed how every satisfying movie ends in a wedding? Where did that come from? God has written that on our hearts! He is wooing us to His word. His grace. YOU ARE INVITED. Have you accepted the invitation? Those who are in Christ eagerly await the time when all will be made right. Those who are not in Christ desperately work toward a longing to fill life with a variety of things that somehow, don't quite do the job. They are longing for their “first time in forever.” The finish lines they set for themselves are never fully and finally satisfying when they cross them. They need Jesus. They need YOU to let them know. They need YOU to live it out in front of them. They need you to un-isolate, engage, care and activate your faith.
There is a world longing to declare “for the first time in forever.” You need to polish the lens of YOUR LIFE through which God proclaims that message. What are you going to do today to polish that up? God is doing something in our region. Will you be part of it, or will you sit this one out?