The Greatest Showman
In this circus (and at church) you'll find a place where all are welcome and everyone is valued.
This spectacular movie lives up to all it claims to be. With a stunning soundtrack, award-winning performances and a captivating story, you're sure to be entertained The Greatest Showman. It is loosely based on the story of P.T. Barnum, who brings together a group of social outcasts to form a stunning circus production. This movie taps into our human desire to find a place we can belong, somewhere we can fit in, somewhere to call home. You see a picture of that kind of community flourishing, despite its faults, in this movie. It’s the same kind of community that is on offer through the gospel of Jesus Christ and it’s right in front of your eyes.
1. A place all are welcome
Through the death and resurrection of Jesus, God has created a new people for himself (Titus 2:14). A people that welcome anyone in society, no matter who you are. In the book of Acts, you see the gospel spreading and all kinds of people start following Christ. In the book of Revelation, we get a picture of the end where there are peoples of every nation, tribe and language gathered around the throne praising God (5:9). This is the power of the gospel – it welcomes all kinds of people and unites them under Christ. For Paul writes:
There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Gal 3:28).
Just like Barnam welcomes all kinds of people into his circus, all are welcome in God’s family.
2. A place where everyone is valued
More than just being welcoming, a gospel-centred community is a place where people are valued. You see in Barnum’s circus family, people who once lived in fear now live in joy, people who were outcasts now have a place to belong. Barnum himself helps people to see the beauty in others’ imperfection. How much more can your beauty be seen by the one who created you, for God sees you and loves you as one of his image-bearers and one of his children. The challenge for us in gospel communities is to see people the same way God does, to value them and love them for the way he has made them.
What you see in the movie as the story develops is that Barnum gets carried away by his fame and fails to see the value of what he already has. He devalues and disappoints the circus family that he created. Sadly, this may have been your experience of Christians, failing to value you as they ought and making you feel judged for who you are. But while sinful people may fail, God will never disappoint you because he loves you and values you as his wonderful creation.
3. A place you can be who you were made to be
The spectacular acts and resounding songs all come from the wonderful collection of characters in P.T. Barnum’s circus as they get to use the gifts they have been given. Flourishing in this community, all the characters are free to use their talents to entertain and amaze. This too is similar to what God offers as he brings together people of all ages and stages in life to serve one another. In God's big church, you can live out who you were meant to be as one of God’s precious children, made alive in Christ.
In Ephesians Paul, reminds us that “we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (2:10) and so we should “put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (4:24). This is who we were made to be – God’s holy people. And in his family, we can be who we were made to be.
I loved The Greatest Showman with all it’s colour and joy, it reminded me of how good it is to be part of God’s family. A place where all are welcome, everyone is valued and a place you can be who you were made to be. So join in with a church, come back home to God’s family, it’s the best kind of community and it’s right in front of your eyes.