The Beauty in the Beast or the Beast in the Beauty?
By Ed Delph
March 27, 2017
When General Robert F. Lee was asked by Confederate President Jefferson Davis to give his opinion about a certain officer, he gave a glowing report. One of the officers in attendance was amazed at his words. He said to Lee, “General, do you know that the man of whom you speak so highly to the President is one of your bitterest enemies, and never missed an opportunity to criticize you?” Lee said, “Yes, but the President asked my opinion of him, he didn’t ask for his opinion of me.”
It’s interesting how Lee possessed the character, purity, and ability to see beyond the beast in the other officer. He could find ‘beauty’ in the ‘beast.’ That was hard to do then and harder to do now in today’s ‘build yourself up by tearing others down’ polarized world. Polarization is assuming we are the beauty and they are the beast, no matter which side of the fence you are on. That’s a tale as old as time.
Recently my wife Becky and I went to see the new Beauty and the Beast movie. I love the music. However, the words in the songs and message of the story are even better.
The tale starts off with the ‘beauty’ of a handsome young prince who on the outside has everything. But to him his companions were just pawns for his pleasure. The beasts of pride and self-absorption occupied his inside. One stormy night, a haggard woman of age begged the prince for shelter in his palace. He cruelly sent her away. Suddenly, the old women transformed into a beautiful enchantress. The prince fell for her instantly, seeing the beauty he had been looking for in whom he thought was a beast. She cast a spell on the prince. He transformed into a beast on the outside, matching who he was on the inside.
The next character is Gaston. He is the town charmer, the handsome hunter manly type who girls fell for. Just like the prince, He was ‘beautiful’ on the outside but his pre-occupation with himself made him a beast on the inside.
What could break the spell on the prince? He had to become beautiful on the inside to become beautiful on the outside again. How do you do that? Give him someone who could love a beast. Give him someone who lived above desiring the Gastons of the world who seldom change, to the princes of the world who ultimately do.
Finally, there’s Belle, the village girl, beautiful on the inside and outside. She had the purity, love, and ability to see beyond the outside appearance of a beast and see beauty within the beast. She encountered the beast on a mission of mercy to set free her father who had been locked in a tower by the prince-beast. At first, she is appalled at the sight of the beast. But love for her father kicked in. She makes a bargain with the beast. She would take her father’s place if he would set her father free, which he did.
Now starts the journey both the Beauty and the beast would travel. At first, it’s awkward. But as time goes by, she looks beyond his temper, frustration, hopelessness and anger. She sees something there she didn’t see before. Listen to a few lyrics of, Tale as Old as Time, written by Howard Ashman. “Tale as old as time. True as it can be. Barely even friends then somebody bends unexpectedly. Just a little change, small to say the least. Both a little scared, neither one prepared, Beauty and the beast.”
Belle’s pureness and ability to see beyond the apparent and beyond her comfort zone, ultimately changed him. That ability was more powerful than who the prince was. He was transformed by Belle seeing the potential beauty in him that needed to get out of him.
What happened then? The beast learns beauty is an inside job. The enchantress turns the beast back into the prince. He became on the outside who he was on the inside - a transformed prince. Gaston died as a beast on the inside and outside. He became on the outside who he was on the inside. Both men had the same opportunity but completely different outcomes. Belle remained true to who she was, beautiful on the inside and outside. That drove the prince to her and Gaston away from her. We ultimately become who we are on the inside.
How did this happen? It took someone who could love a beast. Next week let’s explore the lessons here. But for right now realize God’s love, power, and sacrifice, expressed through Jesus, can transform the beast in all of us. The question is, are we the Prince or Gaston? Are we the beauty or the beast?
Ed Delph is a leader in church-community connections.
Visit Ed Delph's website at www.nationstrategy.com