At The Movies: Wonder
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:
Being misjudged and misunderstood can bring pain to us, but even more importantly, we can bring that same pain to others. In our movie this week, Wonder, Auggie feels ostracized by the entire student body as he starts school due to a rare medical facial deformity. We all can fall into the trap of making snap judgements without thinking about someone’s entire story. Everyone is fighting a hard battle, so how can we see people for who they are?
- We all are insecure to some point: We’ve all struggled with insecurity at some point and may very well again. It may be the way you look, what you can’t do or what you’re not. Maybe your hair is too thin, your legs too thick, your ears too big, your skin too pale. You might think you aren’t small enough, funny enough, athletic enough, successful enough, charismatic enough, talented enough, pretty enough. So what do we do? We do our own version of what Augie did. We put on our helmet. We cover our insecurity. We mask it. We hide it. We try to disguise it. In some ways, we might try to compensate for the parts of us we don’t like. Maybe we use filters on social media. Or wear name brand clothes. Or maybe we try to be the life of the party. Sometimes we might wonder deep down, why did God make me like this? I hope you understand that although you may feel ordinary, you are not. Psalm 139:14 says, “Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.” Look at yourself through God’s eyes. God sees you as precious and unique and of great value. In fact, you are perfect. Not perfect in the sense of a high IQ, flawless skin and a great personality. But perfect for God’s amazing plan for your life and those you can help along the way.
- We all have marks: Scars. They tell stories, don’t they? We may have fallen off a bike or you had your appendix out or maybe they are emotional rather than physical scars. We all have them. The physical scars are often easy to hide. The emotional scars not so much. The physical scars tend to fade over time. If only emotional wounds worked that way. You’re betrayed by a close friend, lost your job, unexpectedly lose a family member, or have a miscarriage. Any one of those leave scars. God wants to make something beautiful out of those scars. What if we began to embrace our scars? What if we refused to avoid, deny, minimize, or run any longer? If you’ve ever been wounded, or have felt like you needed to hide the scars away from painful times in life, then you know how Auggie felt. Even Jesus faced great insults, wounds, and pain more than we could ever imagine. And He carried His scars right back into that little room where He met His disciples after the Resurrection. Sometimes I’ve wondered why He didn’t choose to let the scars fade away. He’d gained victory over death. He’d made all things new. Yet He still had scars in His hands, His side. Maybe He knew we’d need to be reminded of this truth throughout our own lives: His scars, and ours too, are all part of His beautiful story at work. He redeems. He heals. He sets free. He restores. He gives great purpose even through seasons of brokenness and grief. And the scars are left there to prove it. But sometimes we cover up. In other words, we put on a mask. We want to show people our best. We want to connect to others. We don’t connect when the mask is on, we connect when the mask is off. I’ve always said, “We may impress people with our strengths but we connect with people through our weaknesses.” And that’s when Auggie started to connect. When he took off his mask and let others in.
- Faced with disappointment, we have a choice to make: Auggie faced more disappointment than most people. Some of us can relate. It is what we do with disappointment as followers of Jesus that is most telling. Sometimes we can view Jesus as our spiritual candy machine, dispensing dreams and hopes at the push of a prayer. God wants us to be happy, so we just need to pray and believe hard enough. But the reality of Auggie’s and our Christian life speaks otherwise. Disappointment is part of life. As believers, we shouldn’t be surprised when things don’t work out, when we face difficulty, or when life is disappointing. We work hard for a promotion only to have someone else get it. We’ve turned thirty and there’s no ring on our finger. We finally have enough money to buy our first house, only to be outbid by someone else. The pregnancy test comes back negative. But there’s gospel hope even in the midst of our disappointments. As Jesus said, “In this world, you will have sorrow, but take heart, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). He uses our struggles and challenges to sanctify us and make us holy. He is making us increasingly more like Christ. So when disappointments come, we can ask ourselves, “What might God be doing?” “What do I need to learn from this?” “How can I seek him in this?”
- Auggie describes himself as “ordinary.” Do you agree? What makes someone ordinary? What is ordinary about you? What is not ordinary?
- Who or what determines ordinary? Could something be ordinary or different in one place or time and not ordinary in another?
- Why does Auggie want to be ordinary? In what circumstances do you want to just fit in with those around you?
- Is insecurity a real problem? What Biblical figure do you equate with insecurity? What lessons can we learn from him or her?
- How can I conquer my insecurities?
- How do we deal with physical and spiritual scars? In watching the movie Wonder this past Sunday, we discussed that everyone has scars. Auggies scars were external where all can see. How many of our own scars are internal that people do not see? How does 1 Peter 3:2-4 fit into this conversation?
- What is a scar that you have that you hope no one ever sees or knows about? Can those scars dictate how we live our lives?
- In the movie, Auggie said he could not wait for Halloween. That is a case of the “If I, When I” syndrome where the future will be better. “If I had that job, then I will be happy.” Do you think the “If I, When I” syndrome is a good thing or a bad thing?
- On a scale of 1 to 10, how important to you is your physical appearance? Why?
- Is it hard for you to believe God’s opinion of you is good? If yes, why?
- Fill in the blanks with your current and honest perception. Sometimes I wish God made me less ______ and more ______.
- What would you change this week as a result of this movie?
Take one thing home with you:
Choose to be kind: Wonder is the story of Auggie Pullman, a fifth grader born with facial deformities. Auggie’s story reminds us of the scabs and scars we all carry. Everyone can identify with the pain of feeling mocked, isolated, and belittled. In the end, we are encouraged with this advice: be kind. It begs the question, how kind are we? It would seem like a no-brainer for those who are followers of Jesus. Kindness looks at another person the way God looks at us: with the compassion of Jesus and with empathy and purpose all rolled up into an act of redemption and grace.
A heart touching moment in the film is when Auggie’s mother watches her son walk into his very first day of school. She watches her son as he fades into the sea of students waiting to enter the school building. As he is looking, she whispers, “Oh please God, let them be nice to him.” I hope we will choose kind in all of our dealings this week and in the future.