I’m taking a short break this February 2nd to direct my few readers to one of my favorite films: Groundhog Day. I will not attempt to provide an exhaustive review here, but I will provide a few short thoughts on themes in the films that are valuable to the Christian’s life.

1. The film is first and foremost about transformation. Many have compared Phil Conners living the same day over and over and over to the process of a catepillar becoming the butterfly. It reminds me that God is not done with me. Adversity, relationships, spiritual habits and (perhaps most importantly) time are all being used to refine me into a friend of God.

2. The film is about giving up control. If left to myself, I would waste my life focused on trying to control people and circumstances that are, by design, beyond my control. In perhaps the most important moment in the film, an old man dies. In that moment, Phil Conners is more fully transformed. He accepts that even though he knows everything going on in Punxatawney, he is not controlling everything in Punxatawney. From where I’m standing, losing his thirst for control is the single most important step Phil makes in the film. He begins as a self centered jerk. He then becomes kind of a paternalistic jerk. When the old man dies, Phil becomes a guy committed to doing what good he can and begins living an extraordinary life. In many Christians, our unslakable thirst for control of others is what makes our witness toxic and offensive. The desire for control, even when our motives are good, is one of the things that sabotages our witness in front of other people. The film gives an example of this when Phil takes the old man to the hospital and talks to the ER nurse.

3.  The film is about real community. Phil begins the film being too good, too smart, too refined, too famous, and too everything else to be bothered with any of the people in Punxatawney. At the close of the film, Phil becomes an integral member of the community. Importantly, he doesn’t become the new big fish in Punxatawney. He becomes a part of what’s everyone’s life there. To some people he’s just the “nice young man from the motor club” and he seems fine with that status. In my own Christian life, it is too easy to not engage in my own local church unless I’m in charge of something. The film reminds me that I need other people as much or more than they need me.

 I love the film and wanted to share some things it teaches me. If you want some other reviews on Groundhog Day, you might want to look here, here, and here.

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