Who hasn’t watched Frozen?
Well, judging from the $1.3 billion box office takings, record-breaking DVD sales, and the countless multitudes of kids and parents and just about everyone who knows all the wonderfully catchy songs by heart, not a lot of people. In fact, its astounding success has spawned a extra short Frozen Fever, a game, and even spurred the directors to return to work on a coming sequel.
What’s not to love about it (except maybe if you’ve been compelled to watch it for the 52nd time by your kid)? It’s funny, it has lots of adventure, twists and turns, it’s colourful, the characters are cute, and the songs just stick in your head. It’s a story about family, true love, and finding yourself.
I love animated movies, and Frozen is one of my favourites. Not just because of the story, the characters, or the songs, but because of the messages it contains.
And there are many good messages we can find within – that family bonds are often the strongest (fights and all), that love at first date isn’t really lasting true love, that we are all fixer-uppers, that we can’t really change anyone (whether before or after marriage), and that we need to learn to accept and be comfortable with who we really are.
But above all, I see the gospel story in Frozen.
So many of us, like Elsa, live most of our lives in fear. It could be a secret sin, a bad habit or mental obsession or a past mistake or something silly or embarrassing that we don’t want anybody to know about.
Or it could just be the feeling that we won’t be accepted or liked for who we are, or the feeling that we have to be good, to fit into a certain mould, all the time. The feeling that we need to “conceal, don’t feel, don’t let it show”.
And as a result, many of us end up running away, like Elsa, thinking that we can be free when we are alone. It could be running away literally, or it could be running away emotionally, shutting out our family and loved ones, and withdrawing into ourselves.
Most of all we run away from God, because frankly we don’t want to think about being in the presence of Someone that perfect and brilliantly bright with all of our flaws and secrets.
Or we try to live life being perfect, and good, as best as we can, thinking that if we can just keep it to the straight and narrow, things will be OK for us, and everyone around us.
But unfortunately like Elsa, at some point or other we find out the sad truth that we can never really run away from our fears, or be free of them. In fact, the more we try to conceal or control it, or not feel, the worse it gets, and we end up doing things that we never meant to or thought we would do, or end up making poor decisions because we’re mad, or scared, or stressed.
And that’s the thing. We can never fight fear, in and of ourselves. Nor can we control things, no matter how hard we try. We need someone to come in. To save us from our fears, our striving to be in control.
And that’s where love comes in. Not just any love, but true love. What’s that?
As Anna found out, it isn’t the fairy tale Prince Charming kind of love. Neither is it the romantic love between a man and a woman, good as that is.
But true love is, as described in my personal favourite line of the movie voiced by Olaf, “[Love is] – putting someone else’s needs before yours.”
In the movie, we see this in the form of the sacrificial act Anna did for her sister Elsa, that melted both of their hearts. But it made me think of the true love act that happened for each and every one of us, in real life.
Jesus came, personally, and died for you, me, and everyone in the world, that we could live life free and without fear.
He left His throne and home in heaven, His place of honour and authority, His place of love and intimacy with His Father, to come down and take the form of a humble and lowly man, and suffer the beatings, punishments and judgements on our behalf, so that we might become justified, perfect, and blameless in Him.
At the cross, He accepted the curse so that we would be favoured and blessed.
He gave His body to be beaten and broken so that we would be healed, whole and healthy.
He let Himself be separated and condemned by God so that we will always enjoy closeness and no condemnation from God.
He gave up His life and went through death for 3 days, so that we would never have to taste death, forever.
And all of it is ours to have, the moment we accept Jesus and what He has done for us.
Even though He did nothing to deserve any of this, He did it anyway, simply out of love, so that we would always be in the position of undeserved favour. He didn’t wait until we were perfect, or had any thought of repenting or going to seek Him.
The Bible says clearly:
“This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 4:10)
“But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
Jesus Himself said: “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13)
Jesus has won the fight against our fears, against our sins, our mistakes, and He has loved us, right where we are, with our idiosyncrasies and all. God’s perfect love – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit – melts our hearts and unfreezes us from our fears.
And when perfect love has thawed our fears, like Elsa, we will realise that we can rise above what we once feared and see beauty come out of it.
And we will reign in life and in freedom, never feeling like we need to conceal or be in control again.
Because when we encounter Jesus, we encounter grace.