Faith & Fandom
Moana: Know Who You Are
I was pretty much sold on this concept from the moment I heard The Rock was playing a Hawaiian Hercules. While I loved the whole movie, and really enjoyed the Rock's performance, it was the climactic moment of the film that shook me. We see early in the film that Maui stole the heart of Te Fiti in an attempt to give it to mankind, but was thwarted by the lava monster Te Ka. This not only resulted in the heart and Maui's powers being lost, but also a cold darkness spreading across the land and sucking the life out of the world. The darkness, being spread by Te Ka, eventually forces Moana on her quest to find Maui and return the heart of Te Fiti. Much of the story revolves around Moana discovering who she is and exactly how far she'll go to find out. She knows that she is called to go and to discover; it appears that this mission is finally going to give her that opportunity. She semi-successfully recruits the egotistical demigod, recovers his hook, and then makes her way to face Te Ka, but after finally overcoming Te Ka, the duo discover that Te Fiti is missing. In the climax of the film, we discover that Te Ka is actually Te Fiti and that having her heart stolen is what corrupted her and subsequently the rest of the world. There's a beautiful moment where Moana puts all this together and reaches out to Te Ka to redeem her. As Moana approaches her, she beautifully calls out in song;
"I have crossed the horizon to find you. I know your name. They have stolen the heart from inside you. But this does not define you. This is not who you are. You know who you are.”
Moana then restores her heart, bringing healing to Te Fiti and the land. I love the concept of our hearts being stolen but it not defining us. It's such a clear and beautiful illustration of where mankind stands in the world, and also the redemption that awaits us.
While Maui, albeit for earning praise and affection, stole Te Fiti's heart to give as a gift to mankind, it brought nothing but destruction. In our lives, the one who stole our heart had much less noble intentions. We know that when mankind was corrupted, Satan's purpose was to do exactly what Jesus said in John 10:10. Satan’s intention was to "steal, kill, and destroy." When Satan tempted Adam & Eve, it started an ugly chain reaction that stole the heart of mankind in every generation that followed. Romans 5:12 tells us, ”Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned." Just like the toxic decay of Te Ka spread across the seas, our stolen corrupted hearts spread across all creation. While we didn't have our hearts physically removed like Te Fiti, we do live in a corrupted state, and our hearts often look a lot more like Te Ka than we would like to admit. However, Scripture has never shied away from showing us the truth about our hearts.
"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?" - Jeremiah 17:9. "For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened" - Romans 1:21
We may still physically have our hearts, but not the hearts we were meant to have. Just like Te Ka was unrecognizable as Te Fiti, our hearts are equally corrupted by sin and far from what we were made for. Let me also take this moment to encourage you to apply this perception to others. Before you are judgmental, hateful, or critical to those who live or sin differently than you, remember that our hearts have been stolen. Our lives, perception, desires, and thinking have been corrupted. Give people grace. The only thing that can rescue and redeem their hearts is Jesus. So if Moana can give grace to an evil lava monster, give some to your fellow struggling sinners.
We aren't abandoned though. While Jesus may not have a catchy musical number of His accomplishments illustrated by His tattoos, He made the quest to restore our hearts. Jesus crossed much more than the horizon to find us. In Ephesians, we see what it looks like when Jesus dwells in our hearts and restores them.
"So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:17-19)
Even in the Old Testament, God was in the process of restoring our sin corrupted hearts and making us whole again. We see this repeated concept in Ezekiel 11:19 and 36:26: "I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh." We need a new heart, and God is the only place we can find it.
Moana sang, "But this does not define you. This is not who you are." Moana recognized that Te Fiti's heart had been stolen, that she had been corrupted, and that she had committed great evils. Moana recognized that a stolen heart and corrupted existence didn't change who Te Fiti really was. Even though our hearts may be sinful and corrupted, it doesn’t change the fact that we were created and adored by a perfect God and that He sees value in us no matter how far we have fallen. He hasn’t given up on us and He desires to see us move beyond just our corrupted state; he wants us to become who we can be through Christ. God makes it clear that in Christ, all our corruption can be overcome. 1 John says, ”If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Not only can Christ restore us from our corruption, but He can make us completely new. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 5, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation" (17-19). For Maui and Moana, the process of restoring Te Fiti was as simple as putting a stone back in place; it’s not quite as easy on our end though. We have the process of following Christ, drawing closer to Him, and allowing Him to work in us continually through the process of sanctification. I wish it was as quick as Te Fiti's redemption, but I know what Christ does will be far greater than anything that took place with the angry island lady. While the process may be slow and require effort and patience, we can be confident it will be worth it.
"Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6).
Just like Moana encouraged Te Fiti, "Know who you are.” You are more than your corrupted heart. You are more than the destructive parts of your life. Your identity is not found in your situation and circumstances, but in Him who loves you, created you, and redeemed you.