Mission in Moana: Where You Are

I know, I know. I sound like a broken record harping on Moana again, but in my house this instant Disney classic lives on repeat as my five year old’s latest addiction. Still, as I explained in my last post, I believe there is more to Moana, and I’d like to delve a bit deeper into a hidden theme in this movie—and that is the theme of missions.

You might be surprised to discover how much of this film relates to missions and mission work. In order to cover it well, I thought I’d tackle a few of the movie’s iconic songs, one song at time, starting this week with “Where You Are”.

Where You Are

In the song Where You Are, Moana’s father, Chief Tui, and the other villagers of Motunui try to convince Moana that they have everything she could ever need right there on the island. On the island, “tradition is [their] mission”. The villagers are so locked into their routines that they won’t even change their songs–“this old one’s all we need”.

Like these villagers, I believe that we, as Americans, have become slaves of tradition. We celebrate holidays and follow procedures and policies that we don’t fully understand. While there is nothing wrong with tradition, we can become closed off from others who do not share the same views–and like Moana’s father, we may seek to correct those who differ from us when instead we should be learning from them.

Not only are the villagers bound by tradition, but also by security. When “the island gives us what we need”, why would the villagers consider leaving it? Cheif Tui explains that on the island they are “safe and […] well provided” and therefore, Moana and others “must find happiness right where [they] are”. This is why no one wants to leave the island…and as a result, they have forgotten who they are.

When I hear this song, I can almost feel my heart crying out to God in prayer. I pray that we, as Christians, as the body of Christ, do not forget who we are. But, today, unfortunately, I feel that many of us have. Christians are leaving the faith by leaps and bounds though we began as a Christian nation, founded upon religious freedoms, among others. Yet we’ve lost our way. We’ve forgotten who we are. Like these villagers, we have chased what is comfortable: security, provision, safety, even happiness. Yet as Christians, we were not called to lead lives of leisure, security, and happiness. In fact, Christ says the opposite:

Luke 9:23-24 Whoever wants to save their life will lose it

I don’t know about you guys, but there doesn’t seem to be anything easy about what Christ said here. In fact, he told his disciples repeatedly that they ought to “count the cost”, and his final words to his disciples were not those of comfort, but those of mission.

Mission is our mission.

But like Moana’s people, many of our people have forgotten this. Instead, we encourage one another to find happiness right where we are.

Meanwhile, all God wants is our obedience, to go where He calls…but that is a lesson learned in the next song.




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