Small Group Questions

At The Movies: Collateral Beauty    

Introduction:

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 these popular movies by extracting biblical principles and examining spiritual truths in plot lines, stories, and characters. The point is to point you towards Jesus. The point is Jesus. Because if we focus on Him, it leads us to the right choices in life. This week we look at Collateral Beauty.

Something To Talk About:

In Collateral Beauty, a successful New York advertising executive (Will Smith) suffers a great tragedy and retreats from life. While his concerned friends try desperately to reconnect with him, he seeks answers from the universe by writing letters to love, time and death. When his notes bring unexpected personal responses, he begins to understand that even the deepest loss can reveal moments of meaning and beauty.

The why: 

  1. In the movie in the opening scene of Collateral Beauty, Howard Inlet (Will Smith) co-founder of an award-winning ad agency is tasked with giving an inspirational speech to his employees at an all-hands meeting. He asks “What is your why? Why did you even get out of the bed this morning? Why did you eat what you ate? Why did you wear what you wore? Why did you come here? We’re here to connect, so how are we supposed to do that? Much of the remainder of the movie has Howard writing letters to love, time, and death. After writing the letters, three people representing love, time and death have conversations with Howard.
  2. In many ways this can serve as a metaphor for our lives as Christians. Through Christ, God stepped into our everyday human lives and demonstrated a love that is beyond all measure. And while we don’t fear death, we should maximize our limited time. David prayed in Psalm 39: ”Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered—how fleeting my life is. You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand. My entire lifetime is just a moment to you; at best, each of us is but a breath.” But God responded to our limited time with the answer of His eternity; and he forever defeated death to give us life. In John 19:30, we read, “When Jesus had tasted it, he said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and released his spirit.”
  3. What is finished is death, and it is replaced with eternity. What is paid in full is the price for humanity’s sins, our sins, that brought death to the world in the first place. All of this comes to us as a result of God’s eternal, unflinching, unshakeable love for us. We need no longer fear death or wish we had more time, for all of this is paid in full out of God’s love for us.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What ideas or images come to mind when you hear the word Christian? Why?
  2. Describe what most Christians today see as their purpose in life.
  3. How easy do you think it is to live out the greatest commandment to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind?”
  4. By what standard can we understand what it means to love in this way?
  5. Do you agree with the statement “you’ll never know how to love God until you know how much God loves you?”
  6. What are the primary goals Christians should strive to achieve while living and working in the world? Is it a minus or a plus that our time is so short on this earth?
  7. How should the Christian view death? What does it mean that Jesus conquered death? What does it mean that because Jesus conquered death we can have life?
  8. What can we do this week to show God’s love to others? What can we do to maximize our time? And what can we do to prepare for eternity? 

Take one thing home with you:

In the movie Collateral Beauty, the main character is dealing with the loss of a child. Many people are facing tough circumstances in their life. Circumstances that don’t seem to end. But endings are often good places to find new beginnings.  When you come to the end of yourself, when you finally decide that the problem is bigger than you and you can no longer deal with it alone, when you surrender the problem, you allow God to move. Hebrews 6:18 says, “so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us.”

My prayer is that today is the end of just you and the beginning of you and God. Two against one is always better odds. You and God against your grief. You and God against your addiction. You and God against your fears. You and God against your physical problems. You and God against your financial situation. You and God against your cancer. You and God against your loneliness. 

Why does God allow bad things to happen? Someday in heaven we will fully understand—but not yet. As the Bible says, “Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity.[a] All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.” (1 Corinthians 13:12).