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At the Movies: Spirited

Image: Spirited Film (2022) © Apple Original Films. Image Courtesy of IMDb

What needs to happen in a person’s life in order for them to have a change of heart? Maybe it’s different for every person. Sometimes it seems like everything has to fall apart. Sometimes it only takes one gift of loving kindness. And sometimes, if you’ve spent a lifetime hardened by greed, arrogance, and pride, it takes being haunted by three spirits.


Image: Spirited Film (2022) © Apple Original Films. Image Courtesy of Spirited Film.

Ever since its release in novel form back in the 19th century, there have been dozens of versions of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, but as far as I know, Spirited is the first version from the perspective of the spirits.

Available on AppleTV+, Spirited stars Will Ferrell as The Ghost of Christmas Present and Ryan Reynolds, the modern-day version of Scrooge, in a delightful musical comedy featuring a bunch of new original songs that will haunt my Christmas playlist for years to come.

While it is playful, imaginative, and will make your belly shake like a bowl full of jelly, Spirited is rated PG-13, and I wouldn’t recommend it for youngins. I will, however, be watching it again with my husband and teenagers, expecting them all to howl with laughter, and maybe even wipe away a tear or two, like I did.

For every Christmas Eve since the original Dickens’ classic, the Spirits of Christmas have chosen one “hateful human” to haunt with the hopes of changing their hearts. They believe that if you change just one human heart, it will send out ripples of goodness into the world. 

But this year’s “perp file” is labeled “unredeemable.” Jacob and The Ghost of Christmas Present are at odds with whether or not the team is up for a challenge. Why waste a whole year of Christmas magic, changing people’s hearts, on someone who is unredeemable?

Spirited not only captures the spirit of the original A Christmas Carol, it does one better, dipping into the very heart of the gospel. But I don’t want to spoil it for you.

Finding the Love: Faithifying Your Viewing

So, is there anyone unredeemable? Can people change? Is it an overnight thing or does it take a lifetime to work out your salvation? Theologians have been arguing about whether people are chosen and predestined by God for salvation and whether some are chosen for destruction as part of God’s grand scheme to save the world. 

I personally don’t find those arguments very useful here on earth, because I’m a human. I have no idea what has happened in your life to bring you to this point, and I don’t know what miracles God might work in your heart as you approach your end here. I don’t even know what the afterlife really promises, though I hope in the promises of God’s kingdom coming. 

What I do know is that the Word of God promised greater love than we can imagine and urged us to be vessels of that love into the world.

Is anything too big for God? What was Jesus’ sacrifice worth if there are any beyond the reach of his love?

In Paul’s letter to the Romans, he wrote, “Now that we are set right with God by means of this sacrificial death, the consummate blood sacrifice, there is no longer a question of being at odds with God in any way. If, when we were at our worst, we were put on friendly terms with God by the sacrificial death of his Son, now that we’re at our best, just think of how our lives will expand and deepen by means of his resurrection life! Now that we have actually received this amazing friendship with God, we are no longer content to simply say it in plodding prose. We sing and shout our praises to God through Jesus, the Messiah!”

The amazing gift of Jesus’ sacrificial death—what greater gift is there?—is the height of love that clears the barriers between us. Sacrificial love heals all wounds, softens all hearts, and inspires all songs of praise. “Greater love has no one than this, that a person will lay down his life for his friends,” Jesus told his disciples in John 15:13-15. “You are My friends if you do what I command you.”

Is anyone out of reach of that love? The gospel writers didn’t think so—God so loved the entire world (John 3:16-17). Paul didn’t think so. “But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:37-39).

That love seeps out of all of creation. It is evident everywhere if we only have eyes to see. When we are carriers of that love into the world, it has the power to change men’s hearts and make blind men see. Do we believe it? 

Whatever you do, don’t grow weary of doing good. Keep it up. Do a little good. Create a ripple of love that could create waves for generations.

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