How Deep is Your Belief?
Updated: Apr 17, 2020
Defining Your Belief
With the hustle of everyday life, added to the "pressures" (both self made and outwardly felt), it is easy to forget the true reason for the season. Remember the childhood magic we once felt? All of the anticipation leading up to one single day? All based on our belief. Trusting in the unseen. Digging deeper in our belief was needed. Somewhere along the way, this fleeting moment can get lost in adulthood.
Perhaps the Polar Express stated it best ... "you have everything you need if you just believe."
Life doesn't have to be full of nervous anticipation for things to come. We often get too wrapped up in expectations that we have a difficult time filtering out the difference between urgent and important. Society teaches us that we must walk fast, talk fast, drive fast. How many times have you sit in a drive thru of a "fast" food restaurant grumbling because it was taking too long? We all have been there! Yet when we go to Starbucks, we are patient and programmed to wait for a handcrafted beverage. We sip it casually with friends and family. We interact with the baristas kindly, and when we leave the parking lot, we once again become impatient.
Christmas is a favorite time of the year for most of us. The reasons for this are varied for sure. No matter what the reasons are, it fundamentally all comes down to our belief. Traditions change, family dynamics shift, financial status' fluctuate, the only true thing we can control in life is our belief. As most of us know, this is also a struggle, as the spiritual battle we all face is very real and the evil one would love nothing more than making us waver in where we place our hope.
Enlightening Entertainment to Believe In
Currently my church, Wellspring, has been teaching a sermon series called "Christmas at the Movies". This seemingly lighthearted theme has proven to be much more than that. Each week we have explored different secular holiday movies and have been enlightened to the hidden messages that can be found inside, if we look deep enough. Disney has been well known to add hidden messages inside of their films intentionally for those that are keen on finding them. This series truly guided its audience to seek deeper meaning in the things considered to be secular. It broadened our ability to seek more in what we are watching than what simply meets the eye in the first place.
The Polar Express has always been one of my favorite Christmas movies. It's dazzling animation that is so real that at times it's easy to forget that it's not when coupled with it's inspiring musical and sounds make this holiday classic a must for most households during the holiday season. Perhaps the most appealing thing about the film is the intense inner struggle of the main character's teetering belief. Like so many before him, he has reached a point where the magic he once felt seems to be disappearing.
The 'Christmas as the Movies' series has inspired me to take a richer look at this family movie tradition. This beautifully done story may seem misguided with its central focus on belief in Santa Clause, but in reality enforces biblical principles throughout. This fundamental belief in the unseen mimics our need of deep belief in our "unseen" savior, Jesus Christ.
In Matthew 18:3 Jesus tells us to change (in our beliefs/actions) to become childlike if we want to enter Heaven. Similarly, only children who truly believe can enter the North Pole. This same belief that allows the children to hear the bells ring, also reinforces their belief and designates them as believers. Just as children of God can "hear" His voice, in contrast to unbelievers inability to do so.
The main character in the Polar Express goes on an incredible journey of discovery and risks his life to make sure that one lost girl has a ticket to get in, much like Jesus did and then gave His life to validate our "tickets" to enter heaven. The nameless boy is presented with a rough journey to re-discover his belief, just as Jesus' ministry journey was full of challenge and opposition. Despite questioning his circumstances, the boy always chooses the right path and leads those around him to do the same, like Jesus. The boy lives out an awesome example of trust and faith, despite facing fear and uncertainty, and leading others to do so as well.
It is well known that Jesus spoke mostly in parables. These stories represented deeper spiritual truths and exemplified needed morals for their audience. There is a lot of controversy debating hidden meanings in the Polar Express. Whether or not, this story intentionally parallels these biblical truths or not, it is easy to see they are there.
It's very easy to become absorbed in the fantastical show that movies, television, and media dazzle us with on the screen. We tend to take comfort in our ability to mentally "check out" during these events. One of the greatest examples of this, is the phrase "Netflix and Chill", which is potentially a pass from reality. Media and society tell us that we deserve to take breaks and relax, which coincides with God's example, if we continue to reflect God's light while doing so.
It's understandable with how fast paced and stressful modern life is for us to feel the need for relief. At almost every given moment, we are multitasking beyond our design and burning our candle at both ends. My wish for you in the present and in the future, is that you never lose the ability to see hidden magic. I challenge you to look for true meanings in life, whether on a screen or in reality. There are many parables around us, that when using our "childlike" vision, become clear. Relax and release, but continue to live in awe of your creator. Spread the deeper meanings that you find to your family and beyond so that you too can live as an example of true belief in a society that desperately needs it.
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