For some odd reason, my sister and I spent an entire summer watching Beauty and the Beast, almost every day. I think we figured out it was close to 50 times. Maybe Disney planted subliminal messages in all the songs, maybe we really appreciated the redemptive qualities that the story line followed, or maybe we were just bored.
Whatever the reason, I can tell you I relate to Belle’s love of books. Unpacking our book boxes yesterday afternoon was a little like the Beast flinging back those curtains. As I sorted through the piles, my heart was all aflutter.
Why do I feel so much affection for those printed pages and for their authors I’ve never met? I’ve learned from them. Their authors have unpacked the Scriptures, shared their life experiences, and challenged my most natural inclinations. My gratitude flowed over in affection. Then I started thinking of the people I do know, people who are part of my life, who have preached to me, taught me, challenged me, been patient with my arrogant ignorance. My gratitude spilled over in affection for them. And then I started thinking, when I lack affection for Christ, do I consider that it is the Holy Spirit working through all these means who is really changing me and bringing me to repentance? My gratitude swelled into affection all the more.
Sometimes, I hear comments like, “I just don’t like to read” or “I can’t listen that long to a sermon” or “well that person didn’t tell me the truth in love.” I realize that there are qualifiers to some of those statements. But usually, the logic is analogous to a hungry person saying, “I just don’t like to lift my fork.” Or a thirsty person complaining, “My cup just isn’t pretty enough to drink out of.” Or a kid standing in the middle of the road yelling, “I’m not moving until you say five things I’ve done right today.”
Do you (like me) lack love for others and affection for the Trinity? Consider. Are we needy? Are we teachable? Are we changing? Are we thankful? There is great affection to be found in a humble heart. There is humility to be found in the mirror of Scripture and the means by which it is applied.
A word to the wise: It would be better to spend a summer reading books than watching the same movie 50 times. (Although, I have thought that if Belle ever needed an understudy, I could perform on que.)