Summer At The Movies Part 3:
On Sunday 7th August at our morning service, we continued our Summer series 'Summer At The Movies'. In this blog you will find a summary of the talk and then some questions and reflections for you to think through on your own or to discuss in your small group.
To listen to the talk on-line, please click here.
To download the talk to listen to off line, please click here.
We started our service by watching a Youtube clip with the trailer for Wreck It Ralph. You can watch that by clicking here.
This week we had a look at a family film called “Wreck It Ralph”, in which the title character, Ralph, is a very unhappy “bad guy” in the video game “Fix It Felix”. Everybody loves Felix, the hero of the game, because he goes around fixing the swanky apartment building in which all the characters (except Ralph) live. While Felix is everyone’s favourite, with praise and medals and parties heaped upon him, poor old Ralph is excluded and has to live on his own on a rubbish heap.
The irony is that if it wasn’t for Ralph, there’s be nothing for Felix to fix, so there’d be no game – and it’d be “game over” for all of the characters in the little world of “Fix It Felix”.
Poor old Ralph just wants to be accepted and so he steps out of the “Fix It Felix” game to see if he can find a way to earn respect elsewhere.
If we’re honest, we all sometimes feel a bit like Ralph. A bit unhappy with our lot in life. We don’t always relish the role we’ve been given to play. We want to be like other people perhaps, and wish could trade places with them. We all have a role to play but how can we be happy playing our part? What can get us back in the game – and win us some respect? We all like a bit of respect from others, and also perhaps more importantly, we all know the value of self-respect. Of course, we need to stay humble – but we also need to have a sense of worth and value too, don’t we?
Thing is, God made each and every one of us differently. Think of it – of all the billions and billions of people alive today – indeed throughout all human history – there has never been and never will be someone exactly like you. Even twins can be very different, though they share the same genetic makeup.
We all have different experiences and abilities and gifting. And we can all be useful in different ways, to God and to each other. But there’s a secret to how. Two things we need to stay true to.
In the second part of the bible, which we call the New Testament, there’s a guy called Saul of Tarsus. Saul is a Pharisee – someone who knows all the religious rules but also someone who can’t stand Christians so he goes around persecuting them and having them killed. But God decides to use Saul and completely changes his life, so much so that Saul, who starts using his Roman name – Paul – ended up spreading the word about Jesus right across the Roman empire. He even wrote about half of the New Testament – in it we find lots of letters he wrote to the churches he helped set up as he travelled far and wide spreading the news about Jesus and teaching people how to live.
In the first of two letters Paul wrote to the early church in Corinth, we find great truths about the gifts and abilities each member of the church is given and you can read this here
Paul makes it clear that each of us has a part to play and gifts to use – each different but all from God. The most important thing is to remember we’re to play our part with love.
So what’s your part to play? In God’s eyes it’s as valuable as anyone else’s, but only if you’re playing it with love.
These are the two secrets behind a fulfilled life. Making the most of your God-given role in life and playing it to the full - making sure you fill every act with love.
Whether you’re an outgoing person or a shy one, whether you’re big or small, whether you’re a bouncy energetic type or quiet and reflective. Whether you’re always upbeat and smiling or a bit… lugubrious – you have a part to play.
Lots of people need a good listener, not a good talker. Some people need the empathy, the human touch of someone who has been through pain and sadness, not happy-go-lucky cheerfulness. Some people need a quietly-determined friend, a prayer warrior, not necessarily a man or woman of great action.
So what’s your part to play as a son or daughter, a husband or a wife? What’s your role as a father or mother? How do you want to play that role that only you can ever play? What’s your part as a friend? Will you be the loyal, forgiving character, or the disloyal, unforgiving one? The true friend who advises and supports with love, or the type that just uses and abuses? The hero or the villain?
What’s your role at work – not just in your day-to-day tasks but relationally? What do you bring to the workplace? Are you the trouble-maker, or the peace-maker? What about your role in the community? What part do you play as you encounter the rest of the cast, in and around Bracknell? Do you bring road-rage and harsh words? What lines are in your personal script – remember, God lets us ad-lib – he let’s us play our part with freedom! Do you use words of anger and blame? Or words of love and kindness? Words to heal or words to harm?
Whether we would call ourselves followers of Jesus or not, we all have a role to play in life. And regardless of our faith, what’s best? To forever wait in the wings, wishing we had some other role, or to get on and play our part with gusto and above all, with love? Let’s get back in the game.
Do we want to wait around wishing we were someone else, forever the frustrated under-study… or to be out there playing the part we’ve been given? Younger people, never try and be a poor imitation of someone else – you’re one of God’s unique masterpieces. Get in the game and do it with love.
Older people, you know as we get older, we might bet a little more patina – but isn’t that true of all cherished originals and doesn’t it just embellish them? Get back in the game.
If you’re not yet sure about God, you still have a unique place in the history of the world – there’s no one like you! Only you can play the unique part you have in your one lifetime. Don’t squander it. Get in the game.
If you’re a believer… no pressure, but God uniquely made you, and you alone for your role. We sometimes sing a song “there’s no-one like you, none like you” – we sing it to God but in a sense that’s also true of each one of us. God created each of us – a unique work of his hands. Get back in the game.
Don’t think you have to earn anyone’s acceptance by conforming to some ideal and perfect person. There’s only been one of them – Jesus – and he was incredibly accepting and forgiving of people. We don’t need to earn any acceptance from God – Jesus did that for us on the cross. We just need to accept that and realise that each of us is unique and we all have our part to play in God’s great production – we don’t need to be someone else or try to earn acceptance - because God made us, loves us and accepts us joyfully when we turn to Him. Jesus told a story about a lost son who eventually turns back in shame to his father – and the father runs to greet him, even while he’s still a long way off.
So let’s get back in the game! Let’s be the best versions of the unique originals God made us to be. The sons and daughters of the Most High God. The secret, is an attitude of love – for God and for other people. Without this, we’re nothing.
As Paul said: We are Christ’s body—that’s who we are! We must never forget this. Only as we accept our part of that body does our “part” mean anything.
Let’s get back in the game. Let’s get back in the game or it may as well be “game over”.
The stage is set. The script is in our hands. And the cast of characters in our lives, in our town and in our world needs us to play our part and to play it with love. We need to play our part, and to play it with love. So, as someone once said in another movie – Play it. Let’s get back in the game.
Questions and Reflections (for you to think about on your own or to discuss in your small group)
1. Are you happy with your part in life, and how you’re playing it?
2. What type of gifts and abilities do you have – are you using them to the full and with love?
3. Do you ever wish you were like someone else? What’s stopping you from becoming the best version of you that you can imagine?
4. Spend some time thinking about the different parts you have to play in the world (child, parent, colleague, friend, sibling etc) and ask yourself how you could invest those roles with more love and with the best use of your talents and gifts.
5. Take some time to write down a description of the ideal “you” - not someone else, but the ideal you, in all your roles in life.
6. Pray, every day, for God to come in on this with you – that He would help you to be the best version of the unique masterpiece He created you to be.
7. Have you accepted the fact that you are accepted by God? Have you understood that you don’t have to earn your way into God’s family but just accept your rightful place through Jesus and His free gift of grace?