Today, while looking after some children at the annual FIEC joint churches day for churches in Yorkshire, I saw a very interesting animated film. (My church isn’t actually part of FIEC, but we do have links with several churches in the area which are.) It was called You Are Special, and tells the story of wooden people who live in a small village and give each other stickers which do not come off. Anyone can give other people a star (for being exceptionally clever, brave, or good in some other way) or spots (a dark grey spot signifying idiocy or clumsiness). Obviously it’s somewhat desirable to get lots of stars and no spots. Indeed there is even a prize for the person with the most stars. The film’s protaganist is a boy called Ponchinello who is covered in spots and has not a single star.
One girl is different though. She has no stars or spots, and the irremovable stickers won’t even stick to her in the first place! It transpires that she has daily visits to the giant wooodcarver who lives over the hill, even though it is forbidden for the village children to visit him. Eventually Ponchinello is persuaded to visit him, and finds out that even though he is covered in the spots of failure the woodcarver still values him as precious because he made Ponchinello. He explains that the stickers only stick if you care about them, so the girl is free of stickers because she does not care about other people’s opinions of her.
The message is pretty obvious. The woodcarver is God and he is the only person whose opinion should matter to us. Naturally Ponchinello’s spots all fall off as he gets to know the woodcarver, and stops worrying about others’ opinions. We can be secure in God despite the attacks of other people who may mock or despise us for our faith.
Interestingly, the stars do not stick either. This is not, of course, the point of the film, but is still a useful lesson for Christians. The world’s opinion does not matter. We are dead to the world. We are secure in Christ when we suffer, but also when we succeed by the world’s criteria. Compliments should not affect us any more than trials should. We should praise God in both, and seek to glorify Him alone. It is undoubtedly easy to be wooed by compliments from the world, but while they are not necessarily a bad thing to have, they should not change how we view ourselves. We are victors in Christ’s death, and if God blesses us with worldly success then such success is so insignificant next to Christ’s that it shouldn’t affect us. If we are blessed with trials the same is true.