My family has been doing the Christmas movie craze this year. We’ve seen Santa Clause 1, 2, and 3, The Polar Express, and Enchanted. I’m sure we will not stop until we have seen It’s a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street, and who knows what else? While Enchanted isn’t really a Christmas movie per se, I noticed that it shares what seems to be a common theme in each of these movies….the need to believe in something or someone even though there may not be any tangible evidence that the object of the belief is real.
In the first Santa Claus movie, Scott Calvin first can’t accept that he has become Santa Claus. Then, his ex-wife and her husband don’t believe that Scott is Santa Claus. It is Scott’s son, Charlie, who believes all along that he has experienced his father being Santa and helps the adults in the movie finally believe what Charlie has known all along.
In the second Santa Claus movie, Scott, who has now been Santa for about 10 years, must find a wife or stop being Santa forever. He falls in love with Charlie’s principal, Carol Newman, who doesn’t even like Christmas. In what I think is the best line of the movie, Charlie shows her the snow globe his dad gave him in Santa Clause 1 that allowed Charlie to see his dad wherever he was anytime he wanted. When Charlie shows the globe to Ms. Newman, it comes to life and Charlie says, “Sometimes seeing isn’t believing. Believing is seeing.”
In The Polar Express, a young boy has doubts about whether or not Santa is real. One night he boards a train with other children bound for the North Pole on Christmas Eve. The theme of the movie is you can’t hear the “bells” of Christmas unless you believe. When finally he decides that he does in fact believe, he hears the bells again and Santa tells him, “the true spirit of Christmas lies in your heart.”
Miracle on 34th Street chronicles a young girl, Susan, who does not believe in Santa Claus because her mother, Doris, has told her he is not real. An older gentlemen enters the picture claiming to be Kris Kringle and looking very much like Santa Claus. Unexplained incidents begin to occur and in the end Susan and her mother both believe in Santa.
Enchanted chronicles a fairy tale character, Giselle, who becomes a real person in modern day New York. Just before leaving Andalasia, her fairy tale homeland, she finds her true love. She believes the entire movie that he is coming to find her in this land so far away from home.
I starting thinking about “sometimes seeing isn’t believing. Believing is seeing.” We as Christians have a word for this. It’s called “faith.” The Bible says it this way. “We live by faith, not by sight.” (1 Corinthians 5:7 NIV) The NLT translates it, “For we live by believing and not by seeing.” So you see Ms. Newman, it isn’t “sometimes,” it’s all the time.
The Bible is full of individuals who lived this out beginning with Abraham, the father of nations. In Genesis, Chapter 12, verse 1, God spoke to Abram (before he was renamed Abraham) and said, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you.” (NLT) Abram did just that having no idea what to expect. He had not “seen” this land before, but Abram “believed” that God was faithful to keep the promise He had made. Hebrews 11:9 states that “even when he reached the land God promised him, he lived there by faith–for he was like a foreigner, living in tents.”
I have felt like Abraham before. God has called me to step out in faith and go to “a land He will show me.” I didn’t know what He had in store, but I knew that He knew “the plans He has for me,” and that He calls me to “live by believing and not by seeing.”
This is the essence of being a Christian. I don’t see God nor do I hear an audible voice when He speaks to me. And yet, I know with every fiber of my being that He is real. Like the spirit of Christmas in The Polar Express, the Spirt of the Living God lives inside my heart in the person of His Holy Spirit. I had to believe in God and His Son, Jesus. I had to believe that Jesus came to this world, took on human form, lived a blameless life, died on a cross for my sins and then rose on the third day. I had to believe that I couldn’t save myself and by faith ask Jesus to come and live in my heart.
Once I did that, my eyes were opened and the intangible became tangible. Believing is seeing.