by Priya Samuel
My husband is very fussy about the movies our boys watch– especially girly ones. So you can imagine my surprise when we saw ‘Ella Enchanted’– a movie about whimsical fairies and princesses.
When the show was over, my husband was pleased because we ended up having a theological discussion with the boys. I’ll explain…
The Fairy’s “Gift”
A fairy gave Ella ‘the gift of obedience’ on the day she was born. What a gift! This is every parent’s dream, wouldn’t you think?
But instead this ‘gift’ turns out to be a slavish kind of obedience against Ella’s will. Ella obeys any and every command, be it good or bad, given by anyone. Sometimes she is happy to obey, provided the consequences are appealing to her. Other times she sobs through it, knowing something is wrong and wishing she could disobey.
Fed up with taking orders all her life, Ella desperately tries to find the fairy to take back her gift. Like every other fairy tale, this has a happy ending. Ella reverses the curse by her strong will and marries her Prince.
This got me thinking about the kind of obedience God grants us when he saves us. Like Ella, we too were once slaves, born in sin, in bondage to it and willfully obeying it unlike Ella. We loved sin, we desired sin, we did sin, we were blinded by our own sin, and so we could see no need to be free from from our sin. The Bible describes us as “dead in our sins” (Eph 2:1). We couldn’t and wouldn’t find a way out of it.
But God demonstrates His own love towards us that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us ( Rom 5:8).
But God who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved) (Eph 2:4,5).
It is not our obedience that leads us to eternal life but the perfect obedience of Jesus Christ (Rom 5:19) by which we are declared righteous, justified before God (Rom 5:18,19) when we believe!
We are set free from the bondage to sin and become slaves of God (Rom 6:22) not because we receive a spirit of bondage, but the Spirit of adoption (Rom 8:15). We are happy to obey Him! This obedience to God flows from our love for Him (Jn 14:15), from our new hearts.
“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.” (Ez 36:26-27)
The Bible calls this the obedience of faith (Rom 1:5, 16:26). Our obedience to God comes from faith– which is also a gift from God! So, in the end of it all, any obedience we display is owing to His work of grace in our lives.
We had such a fruitful discussion with our boys. Maybe watching girly movies about fairies and princesses isn’t such a futile activity after all!
So… let’s talk about princesses and gifts from fairies.
Do you ever feel like Ella, begrudgingly following God’s rules?
Or perhaps we could try another question for discussion:
What is one of God’s commands that was burdensome for you in the past but is now a joy? What makes the difference?
ABOUT THE WRITER
Priya is from Hyderabad and is trained in physiotherapy. Her husband Anand is a pastor at United Christian Church of Dubai. They have three boys with soul-searching brown eyes (Rohan, Aryan and Daven). Priya’s morning always starts with a cup of tea with evaporated milk and 5 tsp of sugar. She loves to search the Old Testament Scriptures to see how they point to Jesus.