Today: Saturday, December 07, 2019

God in entertainment: Up    (8/22/2010 )


In the Pixar movie Up, grumpy and reclusive widower Mr Fredricksen is forced to sell his home and go into a retirement home… but escapes by attaching a mass of helium balloons to his house and floating off to visit Paradise Falls in South America (he and his wife had always wanted to go there, but never made it). But he has a stowaway on board: a little boy called Russell, a Wilderness Explorer desperate to get his final merit badge: ‘Assisting the Elderly’.

The old man is hugely irritated by having Russell on board—and unfortunately Russell talks non-stop. Russell reveals that his parents are separated and that he never seems to see his father. In time, they land near Paradise Falls and have to ‘walk’ the house closer. However, en route they get mixed up in an adventure involving a famous but discredited explorer who will stop at nothing to bring back a live specimen of an exotic bird. The explorer turns nasty and the old man and the boy must flee for their lives... house, exotic bird and talking dog in tow.

All Mr Fredricksen wants to do is get to the falls. All Russell wants to do is save the bird. All the explorer wants to do is stop them. Eventually, Russell attaches himself to some of the balloons and puts himself in danger by floating off to save the bird. Mr Fredricksen has to make a choice: continue to the falls, or save the boy? Either way, since there are now fewer helium balloons, and the rest are starting to pop, the house is now too heavy to move…

Mr Fredricksen makes the right decision. He throws all of his ‘ballast’—his precious possessions and treasured memories—out of the house, until he can float off in pursuit of Russell. Of course, good triumphs over evil, the bird is saved, and Russell gets his merit badge. Unsurprisingly, his father isn’t there to pin the final badge on, but Mr Fredricksen is.

Why do I think this movie has Christian messages? Firstly, Mr Fredricksen was living a lonely, reclusive and grumpy life—which is not what God wants for us. In John [NT] chapter 10, Jesus said: “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full”. Through Russell, Mr Fredricksen discovers the importance of other people in our lives, and the value of relationships and of living life to the full (he becomes a community volunteer).

Secondly, holding onto our possessions is pointless. In Matthew [NT] 6, Jesus said: “"Do not store up… treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven… For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” By ditching his ballast, the old man learns where his treasure really is.

Of course, there is also the idea of Mr Fredricksen being the stand-in father for Russell. Christians are the adopted heirs of the Kingdom of God. In Ephesians 1, Paul said, “In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ.”

And, like Mr Fredricksen, Jesus gave up everything to save us.

Pray: “Father in heaven, you care for each of us, from the Mr Fredricksen to the Russell to the endangered bird. Help me to understand your love and concern for me and for the world. Amen.”

Think about: Are there worldly things or possessions which you hold onto and which prevent you from living your life to the full? Do they get in the way of what’s important—your relationships with God and with others?

Challenge: See the movie, if you haven’t already!

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