At The Movies: The Greatest Showman
Average movies entertain us. The best ones inspire us. There’s nothing like watching a good movie. You’re caught up in the story, on the edge of your seat, feet glued to the floor, a bucket of popcorn in your lap. If you want to laugh—there’s comedy. If you want to cry—there’s a romantic movie. If you want to jump—there are scary movies. Thrills, action, drama—everything we long for, because we love stories. We long for adventure. We long for good triumphing over evil. During the At The Movie series, we will explore the Biblical themes of popular movies by extracting biblical principles and examining spiritual truths in plot lines, stories, and characters. The point is to point you towards Jesus.
Something To Talk About:
Jesus Christ said He came to give you abundant life and rest. Isn’t that what you yearn for – a meaningful, peaceful life – a fulfilled life? Christ offers it. So, why don’t you have it? In the movie The Greatest Showman, we see a man in pursuit of a fulfilled life and the obstacles he faces in the journey.
- You can’t have it all: One scene shows Barnum and Charity dreaming about the future and the dreams they’re gonna make come true together… For Charity, it’s all about togetherness and love. That’s also true for Barnum but he still has this longing, this drive, to make something more for himself and family. And that’s the theme that drives a lot of the story – the lure of wealth and success. Eventually, he found some success with a troupe of performers. But he really hit it big when he launched a tour of one of the best singers in Europe, and that’s when everything started to change. He was making millions. He was hobnobbing with the upper class. He had finally made it. But then he learns the hard way that you can’t have it all. Neither can we. You can’t have it all but with Christ, you have all you need. He is my all, my everything. With Him I have a sure future in heaven, I have strength here and now, I have a purpose and I have a friend in Jesus. I wonder what our lives would be like if we always carried with us in our hearts and in our minds and in our walk the truth that “All I need is Christ?”
- You need a calling to live: It seems everywhere you look today people are talking about what they’re meant to do. In different contexts with different languages, we are all saying the same thing. Like P.T. Barnum, we want our lives to matter. For that, we need a calling. Each person is called and gifted, individual and unique. And because you are unique, you have a calling. Calling is the truth that God calls us to Himself so decisively that everything we are, everything we do, and everything we have is invested with a special devotion, dynamism, and direction lived out as a response to His summons and service.
- A family to love: Family first. Then everything else. Whether you’re going through the best or worst moments of your life, remember what Charity Barnum said: “you don’t need everyone to love you, just a few people.” P.T. Barnum learned that family is everything. He found out that when things go bad, the only place to come and find the lights on is home. God created the family. He got Adam and Eve together and told them to multiply. God saved Noah and his family. God built His church on the principle of family. God as our Father, and yet we also have mothers, brothers, sisters, daughters, sons, in Christ. The family unit is the strongest force in the world. We draw strength from each other. We are ready to catch each other if we fall. We celebrate the victories. We cheer each other on. The family is a key component of a fulfilled life.
- Home to embrace. The central message of “The Greatest Showman” is there is no place like home and we will find our way back there eventually. Everyone wants to go home. As the ensemble quietly fades out, Barnum realized that his perspective had gotten away from him. He realized that he was living his life for all of the wrong reasons and things needed to change. We can lose something important in a single moment but when everything seems lost, sometimes that’s when the light of Christ shines the brightest. It was like that with the prodigal son. He realized he was going to die with what he was doing and where he was living. He thought maybe he could go back to his father, not as a son but as a servant. He knew he deserved nothing but he had no other option. This son had done everything wrong and had committed unimaginable sins against his father and his family. But the father loved his son so much that he says it’s OK. I love you this much. I am just so happy you are home.
- What was your favorite part of The Greatest Showman?
- Do you have a dream? What things in your life may have stopped you from pursuing your dream? What may be currently stopping you from taking steps towards your dream? What can you do daily that will help you realize your dream?
- When his first attempt at his dream didn’t work out, Barnum listened to the counsel of his daughters to change his approach and focus on featuring attractions that were alive. How can listening to counsel help us with the things we are doing?
- P.T. Barnum’s life was shaped by major catastrophes, such as losing his job and his building being burned down, which led to the transition. How can the bad things that happen to us sometimes help us go in a better direction?
- What is your definition of a fulfilling life?
- When it comes to finding God’s will for our lives, how much do you think is flexible (as in, God lets us make our own decisions) and how much do you think is directed (as in, God has a clear path and purpose that he reveals to us)?
- Do you think we can mess up God’s calling by our lack of attention or our disobedience?
- What do you think we can do to be more aware of what the Holy Spirit is calling us to do?
- How important is family to you? Why?
- Can you always go home? Why or why not?
- Do you think that the prodigal son was motivated to go home because his “Father was loving and gracious” or because he was in crisis? What do you find encouraging about this?
- The circus was marketed as “The Greatest Show on Earth.” What is being marketed to you and your generation right now as “The Greatest Thing?” What should be the greatest thing?
Take one thing home with you:
Remember What Matters Most
All the shine of a thousand spotlights
All the stars we steal from the night sky
Will never be enough
Never be enough
Towers of gold are still too little
These hands could hold the world
but it’ll never be enough
– “Never Enough”
The writers of the “Never Enough” definitely owe some royalty money to King Solomon for this one. Ecclesiastes 2:9-11 says: “So I became greater than all who had lived in Jerusalem before me, and my wisdom never failed me. Anything I wanted, I would take. I denied myself no pleasure. I even found great pleasure in hard work, a reward for all my labors. But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless—like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere.”
In pursuit of his dreams, Barnum forgets what matters most and his original motivation for those dreams. All of Barnum’s dreaming for a better life turns into an egotistical journey to make everyone love him. Barnum loses his wife and children in a bid to make the world love him. He lost the core of his dream — to give a beautiful life to the people he loves. He chased fame. He got caught up giving attention to the wrong woman. He became a user of people who he previously loved. He got lost in the dream rather being lost in love for those the dream would benefit. So, he had to come back home.