Disney’s live-action remake of The Lion King—I’d say it’s “Certified Fresh.” And a warning: spoilers ahead! But hey, it’s been like over 20 years, right? If you haven’t seen it, sorry, not sorry.
Something I appreciate about the remake is that everyone associated with the film accepted that their work would be compared to the original—they risked producing the film anyway. Yes, financially, the movie is a success, but as anticipated, there is criticism of the voices, lack of emotion, and that it’s not technically “live-action.” (Fun fact: Director Jon Favreau snuck in one real shot—did you catch it?)
Like Simba returning to Pride Rock, Jon Favreau confronted the opposition and directed a movement. It was a decision that meant something to him, and to the millions of viewers whisked back to their childhood—many reliving the story with their children. That is extraordinary. Their courage against the opposition allowed us to fall in love with the characters once again. And more importantly, experience four significant parallels between The Lion King script and Scripture.
1.We are tempted to run rather than confront.
After being framed for Mufasa’s murder, young Simba is encouraged to run away and never return. Narrowly escaping death himself, understandably, Simba escapes. As leaders, as seemingly hopeless situations appear, we’ll be tempted to ignore the problem and hope it resolves itself. However, Scripture mentions that only the wicked need to flee (even when no one is pursing); it’s the righteous that are bold as a lion (Proverbs 28:1).
If you’re facing a tough decision or conversation, pray for boldness and gracefully confront, not run away.
2.We are tempted to forget who lives within us.
After being reunited, Rafiki leads Simba to a watering hole—supposedly where his father, Mufasa, lives! In his own reflection, Simba recognizes within himself the image of his father. Like Simba, the Father, “through the power of the Holy Spirit… lives within us,” and a noble mission “has been entrusted to [us]” (2 Timothy 1:14). Just as Simba is not required to reclaim Pride Rock by his own strength, neither are we to lead without the power of the Holy Spirit that dwells within us. We bear God’s image!
3.We are tempted to listen to the enemy’s lies.
With his identity affirmed, Simba returns to Pride Rock to fight. Just as people see God in us (as my friend noted), Scar mistakes Simba for a living Mufasa. However, without delay, Scar manipulates Simba into assuming responsibility for Mufasa’s death. Though Simba wavers, secure in whose he is—the son of the most high (in this case: Mufasa), and rightful king, the truth sets him free (John 8:31). Free from his insecurities and fears. Know that as a leader, the opposition will be a whisper, attempting to have you doubt your worth and identity. Be on guard and remain faithful to what you know is true about being a son or daughter of the Most High (in this case: God).
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4.We are tempted to fight alone.
When the truth is finally revealed—when Scar is exposed—the Pride unifies and reclaims their homeland (obviously with help from Timon and Pumbaa!). What a powerful reminder for leaders that we have access to the Holy Spirit and a loyal community as we encounter battles. Pastor Wes Hamilton says that the church is not a burden to Christians but a gift. King Solomon says it this way, “A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:12). Whether your conflict is internal, external or both, remember, you are not alone.
If you are familiar with Life.Church, each July their trademark series, At the Movies, grants attendees to “experience [their] favorite films in a whole new way.” The belief is that “truth is truth”—even located within popular flicks, like The Lion King. I hope that as you take risks in your leadership, like Jon Favreau (which let’s be honest, remaking The Lion King was as gutsy as asking out Monica Geller), you see God at work in what some have dubbed the new pulpit: the movie theatre. And from the message embedded in the movie, you dare to live as a fully devoted follower of Christ.