Last night, Morgan and I went to see the new Cinderella movie.
Now I need to make a couple of confessions. First, Morgan did not drag me to see the film. It was my suggestion. Yes I know it’s a princess movie. But I’m a bit of a film fanatic, I love Disney, and enjoy Director Kenneth Branagh‘s work. So sue me.
Secondly, I actually enjoyed it. Granted, Cinderella does more dress twirling than I thought necessary and it isn’t a perfect film, but it features the right amount of charm and Disney magic that can make even the most cynical people smile. Even better, I haven’t seen a movie with so much Gospel truth in a long time. I highly recommend you (and your kids) watch it.
While many moments stick out to me, I’m going to focus on just a few of them. Things might get a bit spoilery here, so consider reading this after watching the movie. That being said, most people know the Cinderella story and so the things below shouldn’t be too much of a surprise.
The film introduces us to a young girl, named Ella. Like many Disney films, she loses both her parents. She is then left with her cruel Stepmother and two Stepsisters. They change her name from Ella to “Cinderella” because of the ashes on her face from all the serving work they force her to do.
Throughout the entire story, her stepmother feeds her this identity, “the ragged servant girl is what you are, and that is what you will always be.” It is no coincidence that her stepmother’s cat is named “Lucifer.”
This identity stays with Cinderella throughout the movie. She frequently questions whether or not a prince could actually love her because she has so little to offer.
“And I’m just a lizard”
The scene that resonated with me the most comes when Cinderella arrives at the ball. She says something to her coachman (who is actually a lizard transformed by the fairy godmother), that goes something like this:
“I’m scared Mr. Lizard, I’m just a girl, not a princess.”
Mr. Lizard responds, “And I am just a lizard, not a coachman. But we can enjoy it while it lasts.”
This exchange works for Ella, who embraces her new identity as a princess, even if it is for just a few hours.
As she walked up the stairs with a huge smile, I was struck by something. We are all just people, unworthy of the glories of God’s Kingdom because of our sin. Despite this, God chose to adopt us all as children, making us heirs in His Kingdom.
But we are not limited to enjoying our new identity as royalty for a few hours. Because of Christ’s work we can enjoy and embrace our new identity for all eternity. Romans 8:14-18 describes it this way, ”
“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.“
Take me as I am
When the clock strikes midnight, Ella runs for it. She is afraid that when the prince learns who she truly is, he will reject her. But this is not the case. Instead, the Prince searches the Kingdom to find the woman he loves.
When he finally does, she identifies herself as “Cinderella” She tells him, “I have nothing to offer you, no land or ruling advantage, no dowry or riches. Will you take me as I am?”
The prince is not deterred. He loves Cinderella for who she is and asks for her hand in marriage.
And this is how Christ accepts us. We are tempted to believe that we need to offer God something special before he will accept us. We think “If I were a bit more holy” or “if I do more good works” or “once I start going to church more” then God will accept us into His Kingdom.
But Jesus doesn’t ask us for good works or religious performance. He doesn’t require or money or our land. All he asks is for our heart. No matter where you are or what you’ve done, all you need to do is repent (turn towards Jesus) and believe (that Jesus loves you and can save you).
Happily Ever After
Almost all fairy tales end with the words, “And they lived happily ever after.”
If you’re a believer in Jesus, then those words are not just make believe. There is a Kingdom waiting for us all, and together we shall live with the King and truly know what it means to live happily ever after.
Your turn: Did you see Cinderella? What did you think? Is it ok for a grown adult man without a daughter to enjoy this movie?