‘This is me!’
Hugh Jackman’s latest blockbuster film ‘The Greatest Showman’ has had incredible success since its release on Boxing Day last year. Without wanting to plotspoil, it tells the story of Phineas Barnum, an entrepreneur who creates a Circus using people that the rest of the world label as ‘freaks’ – he makes money by welcoming paying customers in to be amazed and gawp at things they have never seen before.
The big message that the storytellers want to portray is that there is no reason to be ashamed of who you are – and that everyone else needs to accept you as you are too. This is summed up clearly in the Oscar nominated song from the movie, which includes these lines:
Look out 'cause here I come
And I'm marching on to the beat I drum
I'm not scared to be seen
I make no apologies, this is me
Not only does it sum up the movie, but it sums up our culture too. Society preaches to us that we need to be tolerant and accepting of people no matter what they believe or how they define themselves. To some extent this is a helpful corrective – we shouldn’t be judgemental or discriminatory towards people who aren’t like us, and no one should be made to feel inferior because of their skin colour, physical appearance, or abilities. But there is a problem here.
The underlying emphasis on any individual having the right to be who they want to be is completely opposite to the Gospel. We know that on judgment day, the line ‘I make no apology, this is me’ simply won’t cut it.
Here’s the problem: your friends who don’t know Jesus are being fed the lie that simply being who you are is ok; in fact, it’s to be celebrated! Our culture is reinforcing an already present inward desire within your friends to march to ‘the beat I drum’ that the Bible calls sin.
They need to know the truth that God cannot accept them as they are because they will fall short of his Glory (Rom 3:23); and who’s going to tell them that? Well the best person to tell them is you – but how can you possibly hope to share the Truth of Jesus in this culture?
Here’s a few thoughts:
1) Learn to recognise the underlying messages that exist in popular culture; no film, song or tv show is just there for entertainment. Perhaps you could go to the cinema with a mate and have a discussion about it afterwards?
2) Be honest with your friends. This means being vulnerable, which is scary, but openly tell mates that you are not content just being you - admit to making mistakes. When they ask you why you care so much, you have a great opportunity to talk about Jesus and what he’s done for you.
Ben is married to Jessica and has three children who bring him equal measures of joy and frustration. He has a passion for youth ministry, equipping teenagers to mature in Christian adults, and training youth workers. He works for Camp XL as the Director of Ministry at Gaines Manor.