Collateral Beauty Sermon SlideThis past Sunday, I shared a message based on concepts from the movie ‘Collateral Beauty.’ This movie has many characters, including Howard, a successful businessman. Everything is going great until his family is struck by a tragedy, he loses his daughter to cancer. This sends his world out of control and he doesn’t know how to handle anything, retreating into his own little world. His business partners know the end is coming for the business that they and Howard built, but he won’t sign off on the sale of the company. They must find a way to prove that he is incapable of making decisions, so they can proceed with the sale, securing all of their futures. They hire actors to play Howard’s three abstractions of love, time, and death, unaware of their own issues with these themes. Here’s where connections begin to come to light. We are all connected. I don’t want to give away the ending of the movie, because I recommend it to everyone.

So, we begin with these three abstractions. Time, Love, and Death. Howard’s premise is that we are all connected with these. I am reminded that he could very well be talking about the church. We all seem to have this desire to be loved, a feeling that we always need more time, and a fear of death. At least at some point in our lives, these have held our attention. They may not right now, and I hope that’s the case for at least one of these.

We all long to be loved. We want to feel the affection of another. As we think of God as being love, and through this love, God not only created everything and said that it was good, that he loved it; but when it began to fall apart with the entrance of sin into the world, he spared no expense to redeem it. For God so LOVED the world, that he sent his only Son.

Howard asks that question in the opening, “What is your why?” Why do we do the things we do? Why do we get out of bed every morning? Why do we go to work? Why do we reach out to our neighbors? What is our why? What is your why? ‘Love’ in the movie tells us that she is the only why. Love is why we get up, why we go to work, why we help others, why we are who we are. Love is why. Jesus said the greatest command is to love your God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and to love your neighbor as yourself. Love is the only why, everything begins there.

According to the character who plays ‘time,’ love is the creation of all good things and death is complete destruction, but time is the terrain in-between. He says that time is a gift and that it is abundant. I wonder how many of you feel just the opposite at times. Is time always a gift? Is time always abundant? We all have that one friend, the one who is not controlled by time, ever. You know, the one who is always five to ten minutes late to everything. Time is not always abundant. I know there are many times I feel like there needs to be more time.

For those going through tragedies, like Howard in this film, time becomes a prison sentence. It might feel like there is an overabundance of Time available, but you don’t want to live in it. You don’t want the gift of that time, because it’s not enjoyable, it actually hurts.

In Ecclesiastes, we hear that there is a time for everything, and that includes more than just the good times. This also includes time for mourning, healing, tearing down, even weeping. Time is for all of those things. Time is for you, wherever you are today.

Howard’s view of death is where I disagree with him. His view, from the advertising world, is that we all fear death. And while some of that may be true, we are called to something different. Paul tells the church in Philippi, that to live is Christ and to die is gain. Paul was clearly not afraid of dying, in fact, I think he was looking forward to it, he desired to go and be with Jesus. But he also knew of the good that God would bring from his life.

So, what is death? Why do we fear it so much? Or do we fear it? Clearly, after hearing of what awaits us upon our death, being in the presence of God, we should not fear it. Death is a natural thing and as far as I know, no human has been able to avoid it yet. So, I guess we are all connected by death as well. But I love what the character of death says in this movie. She says, “nothing is ever really dead if you look at it right.”

Love, time, and death. Three abstractions which connect us all. The abundance of them or the absence of them, bring celebrations as well as heartache. How we approach them, either brings us together, or tears us apart. We are all connected by more than just these three things. And there is beauty in that.