My three-year-old daughter likes to dress up as Belle from Beauty and the Beast and play pretend. She usually has me be Gaston (Gee, thanks). Then she tells me that she doesn’t want to come look at my trophies because she has to go help her “fodder” with his invention.
But yesterday afternoon I noticed something profound in her character. She usually carries around an old, pink, cloth bound book, since Belle loves to read, and she says that it’s her Bible. That in itself is encouraging enough, but as I carried on my role as the egotistical, conceited hunter, she approached me not with hostility, but with kindness. “You can come over to my house if you want, Gaston.” I was surprised by the invitation, since all I usually get is, “I will not ever marry you, Gaston!” Then I tried to respond in a similar way: “I could lift up the heavy things for your father with his invention.” Her eyes grew wider and she said, “Oh, you would be so good at that!”
We have told her and her brother countless times that Jesus changed people’s hearts with kindness. He responded to hostile humans not in matching hostility, but in humble love and compassion. My daughter had taken our words and worked them into her favorite story. Her kindness in inviting me to Belle’s house (and the subsequent offer to read the Bible to me!) was an expression of how the gospel changes hearts. It writes a new story for old characters, a story in which Christ is found on every page.
It is amazing to me that someone so small could understand something so great—not just intellectually, but spiritually. It was a beautiful reminder of how the kingdom of God belongs to my daughter (Matt. 19:14).
In the gospel version of Beauty and the Beast, Gaston does not end up dead at the bottom of a canyon. He is remade, transformed into a person who truly cares for others, imaging the God who laid down his life for his friends (John 15:13). Personally speaking, as Gaston, I very much prefer the latter ending. Praise God for the brilliance of children.