The Gospel of Beauty and the Beast

The Gospel of Beauty and the Beast // Leslie Ann Jones

Way back in April I took the girls to see Beauty and the Beast, and I started writing this post the very next week, but summer happened, and this sat in the drafts folder for a very, very long time. Well, last month, Micah got the DVD for her birthday, and when we watched it, I found myself captivated all over again. (As a side note, did you know that it's on Netflix right now?)

The movie was every bit as beautiful as I remembered it to be, and each time the cast broke out in song, I felt the little girl inside me squealing with delight. But this post isn't about all the merits of the film (of which there are many) or a handful of questionable scenes.

This post is about the gospel.

As Belle stepped onto the dance floor in that famous ballroom scene, tears pricked my eyes. The familiar words to Tale as Old as Time filled the air, and I realized for the first time that Beauty and the Beast is far more than a fairy tale. It's more than a princess story, and it's more than a happy ending.

It's a gospel story.

I know, I know. I can practically see you rolling your eyes. But give me a minute (or five) to explain. The Beast is as terrible as they come. He's selfish and angry and has an awful temper. His cruelty banishes him to a wretched life in a frigid wasteland void of light, joy, and love.

It was a miserable existence.

And then he meets someone who calls him to account for his beastly nature. Belle sees him. She sees the hideousness of the curse and she does not turn away. Instead, she loves him, and that love changes him. It redeems him and transforms him and makes him new.

Aren't we all a little bit like the Beast before Jesus transforms us with his redeeming love?

We are just as monstrous as the Beast apart from Jesus. That's the effect of sin in our lives. It wrecks us. Destroys us. Leaves us in ruin. We are just as cursed, just as doomed as the Beast. Our hearts are a wasteland as cold and barren as the winter that surrounds his castle.

But God. 

"But God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8, ESV)

Did you catch that? God loved us while we were sinners. He loved us when we were knee-deep in the mess and muck of depravity. He loved us before we loved him back. He has seen us at our most unlovely, and he has not turned away.

Do you understand what it means for God to love you like that? It means that you can't scare him off. He knows you. He has seen the darkest corners of your heart. The ugly parts that you try to hide. He has plumbed the depths of your depravity. And he has not turned away. No. He sees you. He knows you. And he loves you even still. 

Though our sin is pervasive, it does not define us. There is no one too beastly—too wretched—for God's love. No sin too terrible. No secret too big. No one is beyond his reach. He sees past the ugliness of our sin to the heart that lies within. And when we finally surrender to the pull of his love, he breathes life back into our cold, barren hearts. The ugliness of the curse falls right off our shoulders. We are made new.

It's a tale as old as time itself. It's the story of the gospel.

"If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." (2 Cor. 5:17, ESV)

Until next time, grace and peace.

I hesitated to write this post because I know that the movie is controversial in a lot of Christian circles. I'm not saying that it's a direct parallel to the gospel. Only that it contains some redemptive elements that make for a breathtaking illustration of the curse of sin in our lives and the love that breaks its hold on us.

In our little family, we have chosen not to shy away from controversial books, movies, or topics. Do we shield our children? Absolutely. As much as possible...But as parents, we want to be the ones to shape the conversation when challenging issues arise. We want to weigh in on the issues. And most importantly, we want to help our children evaluate the messages of this fallen world against the timeless truth of Scripture. If we don't teach them how to do this, then who will?