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!
If you’ve ever been to the circus, share your favorite memory with the group. If you haven’t, share about your favorite experience at another kind of show or performance.
The Greatest Showman
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.
The Greatest Showman is based on the story of legendary circus creator, PT Barnum. Even as a young boy PT Barnum had visions and dreams about his future. But like many of us, he didn’t always get encouragement from his family and others. They couldn’t see the kind of dreams and gifts that were developing inside of him even as a young boy.
What gift or dream do you have that others have failed to see or perhaps even discouraged?
Have someone read Matthew 13:53-58.
Barnum told Charity—his childhood and lifelong sweetheart—that even though she couldn’t see her own future, he could see it. One of the takeaways from this movie is that no matter what others see or think about us, we need to accept who God made us to be. You are a child of the living God. Let God’s vision determine your reality, not the world or what others say about you.
When God has given you a vision for who you are, and what you were created to be, live it! Don’t let anyone shame you out of it or try to discourage you from pursuing it.
Share a vision or calling you feel God has give you.
How can you leverage the challenges you have faced to help you move forward with your dreams?
People even labeled Jesus when he was on earth. They said “He’s just a carpenter. He’s just a boy from Nazareth!” They refused to believe in Him. They were rejecting His purpose and who God made Him to be.
Remember that when you are the one who is rejected and broken, there’s a lot of other rejected and broken people around you. As you discover your purpose and chase your dreams, you have the opportunity to help others find their purpose too.
When Barnum meets Charles Stratton, who would become General Tom Thumb in his show, he says, “They’re laughing anyway, kid. Might as well get paid.” Barnum missed the point and made a critical error. People don’t really want money and fame, but deep down what we all long for is acceptance, to belong to something meaningful. Money, fame, and power hasn’t ever come close to filling the void in anybody’s life and it won’t in yours. Self-confidence, faith, family, a sense of belonging are the things that will.
Each of us has longings, things missing from our lives. If you feel comfortable, share what one thing you long for: acceptance? Faith? A sense of community.? Something else?
Have someone read Psalm 139:16.
Rick Warren, in his book Purpose Drive Life, says “God never does anything accidentally, and he never makes mistakes. He has a reason for everything he creates.”
PT Barnum decided to use the pain of his rejection as fuel to give others an opportunity to have their uniqueness become their purpose. We resonate with PT Barnum because he is a dreamer and his journey taps into the desire for meaning and destiny that resides in each of us.
Have someone read Ephesians 2:10.
PT Barnum and his new group of misfits were about to discover that they could be used in a big way, but the opportunity would not come without opposition. We all have defining moments in our lives, moments when the pain of rejection will either destroy us or propel us to redefine the labels and accept who we were created to be.
Barnum valued the people on the fringes of society and brought them into a family. He saw the gifts in them overlooked by others. He gave them a platform for purposeful service that brought meaning not just to their own lives but to the lives of others as well. He challenged the norm that said you can’t value or have meaningful relationships with people who are different from you.
Sometimes we think God couldn’t possibly use us, but He places people in our lives to speak truth and encourage us to pursue our God given dreams.
Who is someone in your life who saw something in you that had been overlooked by others and cheered you on? What did that do for you?
When we read the Gospels, we see that is exactly what Jesus did, he called out the good in people.
P.T. Barnum’s troupe was made up of ‘freaks’ and ‘misfits’ who society rejected. The anthemic “This Is Me" is their declaration of defiance, their refusal to accept rejection and instead celebrate who they are. This song resonates with many of us, tapping into deep-seated feelings.
Have someone read Ephesians 4:11-16.
God created each of us uniquely and gave each of us gifts and passions that we can use to serve others. Just like each part of our physical bodies has a different role to play so that we can be healthy and function well, each of us in the Church has a role to play so that the Church, the body of Christ, can function well. If God gave you a unique or unusual gift, you have the opportunity to use it to serve him and others.
What PT Barnum failed to realize is that there is something so much more valuable than money. He needed something deeper that he would never get from accolades, accomplishment, or applause. Ultimately, we’re all looking for a sense of belonging, for connection, community, and a family.
That’s our dream for everyone at Eastside. Our unofficial motto is, “This Is for Everyone.” Regardless of who we are or where we’ve been. Regardless of age, background, ethnicity, lifestyle, politics, things we’ve done, or things done to us, we are a family.
It is an amazing thing to discover your purpose. We find freedom and direction when we confidently embrace the gifts God has given to us. The best of living in community is the opportunity to help others find their purpose too. It is so fulfilling to encourage someone to take those steps of faith and to trust God.
Who could you encourage this week? Who could you open up a door of opportunity for?
This week encourage someone in your life, tell them what you see in them and how they could make an impact on the world.
Spend time praying and journaling about the labels and challenges you are struggling with. Pray that God would help you to see yourself the way He sees you.
Pair off and spend time praying for:
The dreams and longings each of us carry and the courage to pursue the purpose God has given each of us.
People in our lives who feel marginalized and labeled. Pray they would have willing hearts to what God has for them and that they would trust Him with their lives.