Series Introduction

Grab a snack, find a seat... you're At the Movies! Each week we'll see how God uses characters and situations in our lives to move us along on our journey, so we can discover what He has for us.

·      Share your favorite movie of last year and why it stood out to you.


Sermon Introduction

On the surface Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is an unlikely love story. It begins with this handsome young prince, transformed into a beast because of his inability to look below the surface and see inner beauty, something many of us struggle with.

His only escape from this curse would be if he could learn to love another and earn their love in return by the time the last petal fell off the rose. Only then would the spell be broken. If not, he would be doomed to be a Beast for all time.

Have someone read 1 Samuel 16:7.

Relationships are complicated because God made us so different from each other. The very first chapter of the Bible says God made us in his image. Male and female He created us. Men and women tend to be so different from each other.

Throughout life we are attracted by people who are opposites: extroverts and introverts, thinkers and feelers, structured and unstructured, savers and spenders. And of course, when these opposites meet, they fall in love and get married.

  • Are you attracted to opposites in relationships and friendships? Why do you think this happens?

Beauty and the Beast was definitely not a case of love at first sight. Belle’s father got lost and stumbled into the Beast’s castle. He’s creeped out by talking tea-cups and candlesticks unaware they’re all trapped under a curse. He rushes out of the castle. He pauses to pluck a rose for his daughter Belle, and when he does, the beast captures him and throws him in the dungeon. Belle comes to his rescue and finally this unlikely pair meets for the first time.

Belle switching places with her father gives us a powerful picture of sacrificial love.

Have someone read John 15:13

Belle took her father’s place. When Jesus went to the cross he took our place. He pushed us out of our prison cell and took upon himself our punishment, so we could go free. That’s what real love looks like. People think love is a feeling, based on emotions. Feelings fluctuate up and down, but love doesn’t stop when feelings stop.

  • Would you call yourself a loving person? What is your definition of love?

Have someone read 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

The word for love in this passage is the Greek word agape that speaks of an unconditional, self-sacrificing love. It is the love we should have for one another.

Love is willing to take the place of another, and when that kind of sacrificial love is present in a friendship, in a family, in a marriage – it changes things. It lifts others up. We move from selfish to selfless. When we experience life-changing love we want to share it, pass it on to others.

Have someone read Proverbs 18:31.

“You have to help me. You have to stand.”  Those are powerful words that gave the Beast the courage to stand, to not give up, but to realize his life still had a noble purpose.

You know, there’s something about the power of words from someone who believes in you, who speaks life into you. With the words that roll off our tongue we have the remarkable power of life and death in a marriage, in a family, in a friendship, even in a church. Words can wound, they can hurt, they can be vile, or they can build up, encourage, speak life and hope and blessing into someone else. Everything that comes out of our mouth either builds somebody up or tears them down. There are no neutral words.

Have someone read Ephesians 4:20.

  • Share a time someone spoke words of life into you or invested in and mentored you. What impact did it have on your life?

In the movie we see the Beast start to soften and transform. His focus shifts from himself to others. He starts thinking of others and starts reaching out in kindness. Belle shows him what love is, and his life is changed.

When we feel loved and valued, it frees us to be all that God calls us to be. Tell your loved ones what they mean to you. Share with them the potential you see in them. Let’s be people who speak life into each other. It’s amazing when you start speaking words of blessing into the lives of other people instead of cursing them, how you start to see things in them that you never saw before.

  • What are practical ways we can show others God loves them? Is there a situation or relationship in your life that could benefit from words of intentional encouragement and kindness?

Belle is learning you can’t judge a book by its cover, that you can’t judge someone by their outward appearance. This an important word for a teenagers and young adults growing up in a world of social media and selfies being taught that how you look on Instagram is more important than what’s in your heart.

Thank God that somehow, He looks past the beast in each of us to see the beauty that He put there. He sees all our ugliness and secret sins; He sees the shameful hurt, the selfish deeds, and regret lurking within. He knows everything about us and loves us anyways. He doesn’t see a beast. He sees beauty and says, “I choose you.”

You know it’s amazing how even opposites who are so different find a shared love. For Belle and the Beast it was literature, books, reading. And it just started to bring them together.

Those of you who aren’t married, but hope to be one day, if you have a faith in Jesus Christ, put that at the top of your non-negotiable list of traits to look for in a spouse.  Marriage is good, but it can be hard, and when you start from a different spiritual foundation than the person you’re married to, it makes everything far more difficult.

Some of you right now are in relationships where you’ve let a person’s flaws blind you to some amazing positive qualities. A change of perspective allows us to take a fresh look.

Something powerful happens in a relationship when you start to focus on the good things in another person, as opposed to their beastly qualities. You say, “Well I can’t see anything good in this person right now.” The Bible says that Satan is a liar and the father of all lies. This is one of his most effective tools in destroying our relationships, our focusing on the negative traits in someone’s personality rather than the positive ones.

Of course, there are some relationships that might be abusive or unhealthy. There are times when we have to remove ourselves from situations and draw healthy, protective boundaries. Sometimes loving someone is desiring good things for them but having to remove them from the opportunity to abuse others. We know they can still find or return to God, and we can pray for their wellbeing from afar.

Have someone read Philippians 4:8.

In a world that is quick to respond, when emotions are high, it is easy to blow a problem out of proportion. Before you start throwing stones take a breath and try to focus on the good in the person you’re dealing with. What is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy? When you focus on those things you’ll stop believing the lies Satan is trying to tell you.

Before the last rose petal falls the Beast learns to love and is loved in return. They lived happily ever after. At least that’s what we’d like to believe or have been conditioned to believe. If you notice, we never see the day after happily ever after.

The truth about relationships is they are challenging because they are made up of deeply flawed, self-centered, sinful people who hope to produce one bliss-filled, problem-free relationship.

We all need to be transformed by Jesus to remake us into something new. We’re all beasts, until Jesus redeems us and makes us into something new, and even then, there’s a long process of growing to become more like Jesus, a process called sanctification, where our sins and flaws are gradually removed and transformed so that we more closely resemble Jesus, the only truly good person to ever live.

Belle says to the Beast, “Come back, I love you.”  That is the beauty and the message of the gospel, God saying to us, “Come back, I love you.”

  • Share a time in your life that you were in need of a lifeline and sensed God calling you back.


Application

Share with your group a relationship that needs tending to in your life. Identify action steps that could potentially turn the situation around. Spend time in prayer, inviting God to reveal lies you’re believing that are keeping your relationship from growing. Ask Him for wisdom and a willing heart.