Inside Out, the latest creation from Pixar, enters the mind of eleven-year-old Riley, and personifies her five dominant emotions: Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust. The five characters in Riley’s head, led by Joy, man a control panel that guides her through life, forming memories, the strongest of which form islands of personality that define Riley (silliness, hockey, friendship, and family).
The movie entertains and inspires in fresh and thoughtful ways. It seeks to engage us all — young and old, children and parents, and everyone else — in a way that will change us.
Joy, sadness, disgust, anger, fear… Which emotions are leading you from the Inside Out? Here’s the thing: You can’t be spiritually mature while remaining emotionally immature.
The message of Inside Out says that joy in this life can be real even when mixed with darker, harder memories and experiences. The film creatively and effectively protects us from thinking life is meant to be easy, fun, and care-free. True joy, the kind that survives suffering and endures pain, is not cheap or easy. It’s laced — woven through and through — with sadness. So it is with Christ in an even more profound way. We are “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” (2 Corinthians 6:10), and our joy is all the deeper and more enduring because of the grief.
The hope for Christians, though, is that there is even better news than real-life, down-to-earth, grounded-with-grief joy in this world. The joy Riley experienced before her family’s move — a child-like, uninhibited, uncontaminated happiness — is not so far off from the hope of heaven. The full and forever happiness we will have with God in his presence will not be ruined by sadness or distress or disgust, but enriched by them. One day, God will wipe away every tear (Revelation 21:4) — no fear, no sadness — and amazingly we will be eternally better for having cried.
Our joy, then and there, will be truly free, fearless, and full — childlike, but untouchable.
Truths that Transform
Rev. Todd Henderson, August 27, 2017