At the Movies is a series we do every year where we explore the Biblical truths, we find in Hollywood movies. So, break out the popcorn. It’s going to be an adventure!
Share your favorite movie of 2018 and what impact the movie had on you.
Note to Leaders: Watching this video is optional, but it may help give context to people who have not seen the movie or were not able to be at church.
Wonder is the inspirational story of Auggie Pullman that shows us what it looks like to overcome fear and grow through challenges. Auggie was born with mandibulofacial dysostosis, leaving Auggie with severe facial deformities and the need to endure dozens of surgeries throughout the years to help him to breathe, to eat, to hear and to try to help him look a little more ordinary as well.
When faced with attending school for the first time, after years of homeschooling, he admits he is “totally and completely petrified.” For Auggie, the fear of people seeing him with his unusual facial features and scars causes him to reach for his mask. That helmet has become his escape, his safe place, a security blanket. He’s grown comfortable wearing a mask.
Maybe you have too. You grab your mask out of the fear that you will be rejected, so you don’t allow anyone to get close to you. You question your own appearance and so you belittle others somehow thinking it will make you feel better about yourself. You come to church and want everyone to think you’ve got it all together. You end up concentrating on the exterior more than the interior. On the surface you look great, but you’d never want others to know of some of the struggles you experience and so, like Auggie you reach for the mask. Hiding behind it helps you to escape, hide your pain, and carry on the illusion.
What fears or struggles in your life have you hiding behind a mask?
Have a volunteer read Psalm 139:13-14.
There is One who believes in you. In fact, you were created in His image.
He knows that the journey will be difficult, but like any loving parent, He knows what’s best for you. He may even ask you to take off your mask and depend solely on Him.
Have a volunteer read 2 Timothy 1:7.
When you are living a life empowered by God the Holy Spirit you discover that victory in your life isn’t something that’s behind you but in front of you. The Apostle Paul writes in Philippians 3 “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what lies ahead of me I press on.”
Fear should never be a stop sign for the plans God has for your life. Don’t let your fears determine your destiny. That’s God’s job.
Take a risk. Face your giant. The greatest victory in your life is often on the other side of your greatest fear. But you have to take a step of faith through the fear.
Share a time you have faced your giant or taken a risk, trusting God would meet you with each step. How is your life different because you took action?
What is something you have been letting fear keep you from doing? What next step of faith can you take this week?
Have a volunteer read Hebrews 11:1-12:3. | Note: This is a longer than usual passage to read. You might want to break it up amongst different readers or make sure the person reading is comfortable with an extended selection.
When you feel alone in a new job or situation, when your phone doesn’t ring or your inbox consists only of spam and bills, remember what Auggie’s Dad told him, “You’re gonna feel alone, but you’re not.”
Auggie’s mom, played by Julia Roberts, says, “We all have marks on our face. This (heart) is the map that shows us where we are going. And this (face) is the map that shows us where we’ve been. And it’s never, ever ugly.” What she’s saying is your story is yours alone. God gave it to you for a purpose. But there comes a point when you have to decide: will you just try and hide your scars, or will you allow them to tell a greater story?
Auggie had several people in his life, both family and new friends, cheering him on. Who is one of the people in your life, who inspire you and cheer you on? This week, text them or email them, telling them how meaningful they are to you.
Have a volunteer read 1 Samuel 16:7.
Thankfully, God has a way of changing the way we see ourselves, and the way we see others.
On the first day of school Auggie’s sister whispered in his ear, “If they stare…let them stare. It’s tough to blend in when you were made to stand out.”
Where are you tempted to blend in instead of standing out? What keeps you from living to your fullest potential?
When this story began Auggie consistently hid behind a mask, but without the mask, he discovers that he is something special. How about you? Imagine the life you could live if you stopped trying to be someone else, if you embraced who God uniquely created you to be. We all have marks. We all have a past. But God can heal our past and can even use the most difficult things in our lives for God. He is the one who can make all things new.
Have a volunteer read 2 Corinthians 5:17.
God doesn’t want to just forgive you. He wants to make you brand new.
Towards the end of the movie Auggie says “Be kind, for everyone is fighting a hard battle. And if you really want to see what people are, all you have to do is look.”
We all have insecurities and struggles, problems and weaknesses. We each have our own dark, pain-filled corners of our lives. And when we’re backed into one of those corners is when the simple kindness of another can pull us into the light. And God can use you to do the same in someone else’s life.
Who in your life, needs you to be that encourager? Text them a word of encouragement right now!
Affirm someone in your life, share a verse that might encourage them.
Spend time praying and journaling about the struggles and battles you are facing. Pray about where you want to see a better story in life and ask God for help in fighting for it.
Pair off and spend time praying for:
Courage to stand out and be an encouragement to people in our lives who need to know Jesus or need to be reminded of how much He loves them.
The areas in your own life where you have been hiding behind a mask and want to risk being vulnerable and letting people you care about see the real you.