I cannot tell you enough how much I love the story of Beauty and the Beast. It was my favorite movie growing up. I loved it so much that I would dress up like Belle in a yellow gown, sing along to the film, and watch it again and again and again on VHS . I felt a kinship to Belle in her love for reading and her heart to see the good in others, even if their good qualities were veiled by a beastly character. When I found out that Disney would be remaking my favorite classic Disney princess film into a live-action movie, my emotional joy matched that of Belle's joy when the Beast shows her the library of her dreams.
I'm sure you've heard that there have been a number of controversial posts and discussions in Christian circles in regards to this new live-action film, namely due to "an exclusively gay moment." I'm sure it will deter discerning parents from allowing their children to watch it, but after viewing it on the night of its theatrical premiere, let me make a hearty recommendation to you: go see it!
After watching the new Beauty and the Beast, I was reminded once again of how this story and tale as old as time depicts the gospel (the ultimate tale as old as time) in the sacrificial love that redeems and transforms the characters, literally transforming them and making them human again... cue the Human Again song. Not only that, but there are glimpses of the coming restoration through Jesus in the way that the characters and the castle are restored and brought back to life after an act of love.
If you've never seen Beauty and the Beast before, the premise of the story is that a vain prince is turned into a beast by an enchantress and can only be changed back by true love. A beautiful woman named Belle ends up at his castle in search of her father, and she might be his last chance to be restored. The only way the Prince can become human again is if he falls in love and is loved in return.
I could share specifics about what makes this new live-action film worth seeing from a filmmaking perspective, but what amazes me are the glimpses of the gospel story that are present throughout the original animated film and this new live-action retelling. I'm a firm believer that all well told stories offer a glimpse of the greatest story, that of God sending Jesus Christ to save and redeem sinners through his sacrificial love. Here are two ways that B&B depicts the gospel story:
Restoration and Making All Things NEw
As the film draws to its climax, the final rose petal falls. The beloved servants turn into antiques, losing their humanity. The beast dies, without a hope of being restored. Belle weeps with the thought of losing the one that she loves. We weep and we mourn. It's a sad moment, and it looks like there is no hope.
But as Belle weeps over the Beast, she tells him that she loves him. With her proclamation of love, light suddenly surrounds him, turning the beast back into a man, and restoring him to life. Belle's love saves him. As the Beast is restored to a man, the people of the castle are restored as well. They are all transformed into humans again, and the castle returns to its former glory. It is a beautiful moment, watching the transformation and the restoration, but it is a glimpse of a restoration that will be even more magnificent and beautiful, when Jesus will make all things new. John, one of Jesus' disciples, writes about this in the book of Revelations:
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
The restoration that we see in Beauty and the Beast is a picture of what the restoration will be like when sinners are restored to the Lord through the love and sacrifice of Jesus. But that's not all! It's also a glimpse of what it will be like when the earth is restored and made new. We love this aspect of Beauty and the Beast because it is a picture of what is to come for those that receive the love and sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross and love him in return. Our hearts enjoy watching restorations in films, because our souls are longing for when everything will be made new and right again.
Saved and changed By Love
Have you ever noticed that what doesn't save the Beast is that he loves Belle, but rather what saves him is that Belle loves him. It wasn't until watching the new retelling that this fact from the film struck a chord in my heart.
I'm just like the Beast. I am not saved simply by my own love for Jesus, I am saved by Jesus' love for me, that He loved me so much that he went to the cross willingly to die for sinners like me, to restore us to God (John 3:16). While I do love Jesus, what will restore me and others to (eternal) life and will transform us into glory in a more spectacular way than in Beauty and the Beast is Jesus' sacrificial love for sinners. Jesus' love is what transforms beasts (sinners) into humans and makes us new.
These are just two gospel themes that I've been thinking about after viewing the new retelling of Beauty and the Beast. I'm sure there are more themes that I could pick out (I guess I'll just have to go watch it again), but it's beautiful to see glimpses of the ultimate tale as old as time in a well-known classic. It's a reminder that every story is a reflection of the greatest story, the gospel. The difference is that the gospel is a true story that will end with a real restoration and real transformations.
So when you watch Beauty and the Beast (or re-watch it again and again like me), I hope that it points you to the ultimate tale as old as time, and that you watch as the restoration and transformation unfolds on screen, knowing that it is a glimpse of a greater story that is unfolding.
If you want to listen to music from the new film, check out the new album: Beauty and the Beast (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
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My last few days as a single lady, getting married, moving, name change things, and so much in between. June was a month filled with so many new learning experiences. Here are five things I learned in the beautiful month of June:
1. Wedding Days Fly By
I've heard a lot of people say this while wedding planning, but I guess it took experiencing it to understand. Your wedding day flies by, so enjoy every moment. Some of my favorite moments from Mr. B's and my wedding were the little moments we got to enjoy together, like taking photos in the rain while our guests were arriving and getting to spend time with my dearest friends.
2. Every Wedding Has a Unique Story
On our wedding day, the fire alarm went off in the hotel where the lads and ladies were getting ready, so we had to leave the room with our lunches for a few minutes while the alarm got straightened out. And it rained only during our ceremony on the day of, which meant that we couldn't have the ceremony outside as planned, BUT it meant that we got to say hello and greet our guests while we took pictures before the ceremony in the rain. Even though our wedding didn't go as planned, I wouldn't trade the fun story God worked out with the quirks.
3. Cruises Are Awesome For Honeymooning
No driving? No cooking? Getting to make all the friends? YES PLEASE! B and I loved getting to enjoy time together on our honeymoon, but we also enjoyed making new friends while eating meals. We were on a Royal Caribbean ship and we were so pleased with the service and care of the RC staff. I can't wait to go cruising again!
4. Evernote Is The Best Online Note Taking Tool Eva'
I have a thing for to-do lists and taking notes, but I struggle with knowing how to organize my notes, to-lists, memos, and random thoughts that need a place to be stored. Enter Evernote. I came across this web-based note system while perusing Tim Challie's blog. What I appreciate about Evernote is that it allows you to create digital notebooks which you can then file your notes under. It meets all of my note needs and lets me keep all my notes and thoughts organized. Look forward to a more in-depth review of this tool in a future post.
5. Gospel Themes in Downton Abbey
Mr. B and I have been watching Downton Abbey in our down time. I've seen the entire series, but the world of DA is new to Mr. B. It's been a joy to watch it with him, but it's also given me a fresh view of the series. With each episode, I keep seeing gospel themes. For example, the servants of DA image Jesus in the way they serve the family that employs them. It reminds me of when Jesus responds to the two brothers that wish to sit at the right and left of Jesus when he enters his Kingdom
Whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.
While the servants are paid to serve, it's a beautiful thing seeing how the servants image Jesus in the way that they serve faithfully and with love and care for the family.
These are just a few things I've learned this month. What are some things you learned this past month?
Let's be honest, it's difficult to remember all of things that we want to pray about. If we don't write down the things we want to pray about or for, they can get lost in the mush between our ears. That's why I use and love an app called Echo. It's a prayer app and it's pretty helpful and simple to use.
Echo is an easy and helpful tool to keep track of prayers. It's also helpful for staying focused on a specific prayer while praying. The website says, "Echo exists to help you pray." And it does just that.
If you want to learn more or download Echo, you can visit the website for the app here. It's available to download for iPhones and Androids. Download and get praying!
I was sitting in Starbucks the other day chatting with a friend when a song came on over the store's sound system. It was a song that I had heard a few weeks ago, and the melody was catchy, but I hadn't caught enough of the lyrics previously to look it up. After my friend-date, I went home, found it on Spotify, and shamelessly danced to it in my kitchen on repeat while making stir fry.
The song is Lay It All On Me by Rudimental featuring Ed Sheeran.
After probably the tenth time I listened to it, I realized why I liked it so much. I've heard the lyrics before but from someone far different from Ed Sheeran.
Before I go on, feel free to play the song below and read over the lyrics.
Ed Sheeran makes a lot of promises in this song. Ultimately he promises that any burdens, concerns, or insecurities the girl (I'm assuming he's singing to a girl) finds herself in, she can lay it all on Ed Sheeran, and he will carry her burdens. But these are promises that Ed Sheeran nor any other human will be able to fulfill perfectly. However, there is someone that made the same promises over 2000 years ago and still keeps those promises to this day. Let's take a look at a few of them:
Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you;
he will never permit the righteous to be moved.
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
1 Peter 5:7
The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts
and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.
Now these are bold promises, just like Ed Sheeran's. The difference is that Jesus Christ made these promises and he fulfills them perfectly.
We can lay all of our cares, concerns, worries, and burdens on Jesus because he loves us and has already carried us. Every sin (which includes worries and anxieties) was laid on Jesus on the cross (Isaiah 53:6). When he resurrected, he overcame death, our sins, burdens, worries, anxieties, and the world! He's the only one we can lay everything on and trust that he will always be victorious and carry us through the good and the bad.
We can't carry everything ourselves. Our burdens are too much for us to bear alone. That's what makes this song so popular. We know that we can't do it, that's why we love songs about a man offering to carry all of a woman's burdens. So when you're going through trials, suffering, or have worries, concerns and cares, who do you lay it all on? Yourself? Your loved ones? Or on Christ?
While Christians are called to bear each others burdens (Galatians 6), we can't do it perfectly nor should we expect to, but there is one that can and will always carry our burdens completely and perfectly. And the next time you listen to "Lay It All On Me" or need to cast all of your burdens on someone, I hope you remember him.
Shalom! I'm Madi, a laughter-loving, movie-going, spontaneous-dancing, follower of Christ. Join me as I seek glimpses of God's grace in the ordinary and everyday.
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She Laughs Without Fear