The Gospel According to Shrek?

by Rick Pidcock

This past weekend, our church had our second movie night.  If you haven’t read the other articles, each month we watch a different movie. And then I lead a discussion of it in light of the gospel. 

This month, we watched the movie Shrek. I must admit that I was made fun of on more than one occasion for choosing this movie.  “What could Shrek have to do with the gospel? It’s just a stupid teenager movie!” But those of us who were there had a blast. 

My friend Tony even brought his Shrek 3-D glasses.  Talk about serious discipleship!  I might get in trouble though if I post the picture of us adults gathering around the T.V. with our Shrek 3-D glasses. 

In the end, however, everyone who attended was drawn closer to their Savior.  And I hope that through this review, you will be as well. 

1. What are the overall messages of the movie?

There are three main messages of the movie. The first is that our identity comes from within, not from externals.  Towards the beginning of the movie, when Donkey first meets Shrek, he comes across as quite the pest.  Finally, in an attempt to get rid of Donkey, Shrek cries out, “I’m an ogre! Doesn’t that bother you?”   

Later, when discussing the stories told in the stars, Shrek says, “Sometimes things are more than they appear.”  He was clearly drawing a connection between what they were discussing and the fact that he is more than what he appears to be on the outside.   

Finally, in the end of the movie when Princess Fiona is changed into “Love’s true form,” she officially becomes a full-time stay-at-home ogre.  In dismay, she says, “I thought I was supposed to be beautiful.”  To which Shrek responds, “You are beautiful.” 

The second message of the movie is that freedom from bondage can only be found through true love.  As the movie opens up, Shrek is sitting in his out-house reading a fairy tale about a cursed princess, locked away in a castle, who can only be rescued by her true love.  This idea sets the context for Shrek’s eventual quest to rescue her. 

The third message of the movie is that we all need community.  As an ogre who is despised by the culture, Shrek isolates himself into his own house, with no connection to the outside world.  He refuses to allow Donkey into his house.  And later, he says that as soon as he returns home, he is going to build a wall to keep people out.   

Donkey confronts Shrek by asking, “Who are you trying to keep out?”   

Then Shrek yells, “Everybody! I’m not the one with the problem!  They have the problem because they judge me before they even know me!” The more Shrek isolates himself from the community of people who love him, the more miserable and hurt everybody becomes. 

2. How do these messages point us to the gospel?

Our identity is found in the fact that Christ is in us. 

Just as in Shrek, external conformity to any standard is irrelevant and useless.  We are not defined by the way we look, how wealthy we are, or even how moral we can be in our own strength.  We are defined by what is inside of us.  If we are without Christ, then the Bible says that we are a disgusting corpse whose righteousness is as good as rags full of leprosy pus. However, if we have Christ, we have become a new, complete, beautiful creation of God. 

Freedom from our prisons can only be found through our true love—Christ, not through the imposters. 

As I said earlier, the movie begins by saying that only the princess’s true love can save her.  Later, when Shrek is rescuing Princess Fiona from her prison, he notices that many other imposters had tried to save her, only to be incinerated by the dragon. 

In the same way, we all are bound in prisons of different kinds.  And many imposters in this world offer escape.  But only our true love Jesus Christ can give us freedom. 

At one point in the movie, Shrek says, “How could she love me?  She’s a princess.  And I’m just an ogre.”  In our culture, beautiful people are not supposed to love ugly people.  Rich people are not supposed to hang out in the ghetto.  And yet, Christ is much more beautiful than a princess.  And we are much more ugly than an ogre.  It doesn’t make sense that He would love us and call us His bride.  But He does. 

We need a community of friends—the church. 

When Shrek isolates himself from everybody else, his seclusion hurts everybody.  It deprives him of healthy friendships and of the help that he needs.  It also robs others of the edification that Shrek could offer to them.  And it hinders opportunities that Shrek and his friends could have to help those around them. 

Unfortunately, many of us do the same thing.  God has given us a community in which we can be built up, serve others, and join to reach the world.  But we often isolate ourselves from this community of friends called the church. 

In my church, we have around 125-150 people who come.  But only around 60-70 show up each week.  And while in most cases, I do not believe that people are purposefully saying, “I’m going to live an isolated life and shut everybody else out,” in effect, they are doing just that.  By only having a casual view of church, small groups opportunities, and other get-togethers, we disconnect ourselves from the body.  And as a result, we are not able to be helped, we are not able to help others, and the church loses opportunities to minister to and make disciples of its community. 

At the end of the movie, when Donkey confronts Shrek about his seclusion, he tells Shrek, “Friends forgive each other.”  Then, as Shrek apologizes, all of the relationships are joyfully restored.  Healing begins with humility.  And if the body of Christ is to be healed of its sickness, we all need to humble ourselves by forgiving, opening up, and becoming transparent with one another. 

After our discussion, everyone in the room said that they never would have thought that they could have grown so much from simply watching Shrek in a gospel-centered perspective.  Aspects of the gospel were pointed out to each of us that had a profound impact on the way we viewed our own identity, freedom, and community. 

I pray that these movie reviews will also spur you onto viewing your entertainment life as opportunity for real worship and growth, rather than merely a few hours of escaping reality.

You can view PluggedInOnline’s review of Shrek here.

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13 thoughts on “The Gospel According to Shrek?

  1. Hey Pastor Pidcock, I just found your blog through BlogJones (having seen an earlier link on Mounty’s Corner). I’ll definitely be adding it to my blog reader.

    BTW, I was amazed to see you’re the worship leader at NorthField. I’m currently working on a redesign of my church website, and I had found your church website a few months ago when looking for good examples. I had really liked what I saw of NorthField Church through the eye of the website, but I had no idea that it had any connections whatsoever to BJU. (I’ll be a junior there this fall.) Are you the only pastor at NorthField from BJ, or do any of the other leaders have connections there too?

  2. Scott,

    Thanks…how did you hear of our church website to begin with? Our head pastor, Matt Hand, is also from BJU. He received two masters degrees from there a couple of years ago. In fact, his dad and brother are on staff there. You might know them both as “Dr. Hand.” Matt’s sister, Katie, also lives out here with her family. Their house is where we have the movie nights.

    In September of 04, my wife and I moved out to Denver with Zach Robson and Joanna Bailey (BJ grads who would eventually get married). Then Matt and Amy moved out shortly after their baby was born in October. A girl who graduated this past year just moved out to help us as well. And a number of other couples from BJ are wanting to or thinking about moving out here to help us. There’s plenty of stuff to do. We have alot of ideas for ministry opportunities. But Matt and I can’t do them all.

    Btw, feel free to call me Rick. We go on a first name basis out here. As John MacArthur says, “If the apostle Paul was fine with being called “Paul,” then I’m fine with being called “John.” There’s just something about “Pastor Pidcock” that doesn’t quite roll off the tongue to me.

  3. Hey Pastor Pidcock….Now that’s a first in the long line of Pidcock’s! I much prefer the casual Rick myself too! Anyhow, thanks for the forwards…and I’m sorry I don’t keep better track of what’s going on with you. We have just moved to Palm Coast and are just ten minutes from Amy and Vince…love it! Still lots of boxes to unpack, but getting there. Sounds like your staff is rapidly expanding, that’s so cool. We are visiting Amy and Vince’s church, the staff is great….kind of miss some of the traditional things, but overall, it’s a wonderful place to worship. Hope all is good with you and Ruth. Love, Aunt Sharon

  4. At first when i got your movie review and how it relates to the gospel i was wondering when you jumped off the deep end:) but after reading the review, and owning the movie myself i decided to look for myself and it may not be a “christian” movie but there are certainly a lot of aspects of the movie that we as christians can apply to our lives. when i watch movies i watch them for pure entertainment but now this review has challenged me a little to see what i can get out of them.

  5. I can’t remember how I found your church website. I added it to a bookmarks folder of example church websites a few months ago. I had your pastor’s dad for Life and Ministry of Paul this last semester. He’s a great teacher — if Matt is even half as good a speaker, he’s got to be pretty awesome. 😉

  6. THANKS GOD WHO GAVE ME YOUR CHURCH WDEAR FRIEND AND FAMILY

    I HOPE ALL IS GOING WELL BY THE GRACE OF GOD. GREETING IN THE WOUNDERFUL NAME OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST FROM PAKISTAN

    I AM 35 YEARS OLD, HAVE FAMILY WITH 4 CHILDREN AND GOD SERVING ME AS PASTOR ( THE LORD JESUS’ DISCIPLES. MERCY CHURCH)I WOULD LIKE TO LEARN THROUGH YOUR MINISTRY, ALL THESE THINGS SHALL BE BLESSFUL FOR THE BODY OF CHRIST, AND CHURCH OF PAKISTAN. MAY GOD BLESS YOU AND DEFEND ALL YOUR WORKE.
    I THANK GOD FOR YOUR AND I ASK THAT GOD WILL BLESS YOU IN WAYS THAT YOU HAVE NEVER DREAMED.
    I AM THANKFUL THAT YOU TOOK THE TIME TO WRITE THIS. I DO STAND WITH YOU NOW IN SPIRIT.
    I AM HAPPY TO INFORM YOU THAT WE HAVE RECENTLY STARTED THE http://WWW.SCHOOLOFCHRISTINTERNATIONAL.COM HERE IN LAHORE. ITS OPENING CEREMONY WAS HELD ON 13-FEB-2006. CURRENTLY WE ARE HAVING OPPROXCMATELY 10-12 STUDENTS AND THAY ARE BEING TAUGHT THROUGH (DVDS AND VCDS).
    AND WE WISH THAT IF ANYONE CAN PROVIDE ANY HELPFUL MATERIAL IN THIS REGRD, WE SHALL BE HIGHLY GRATEFUL. I HOPE IT WILL BLESS BLESSFUL FOR THS BODY OF CHRIST AND CHURCH OF PAKISTAN.

    YOUR SERVANT IN CHRIST,
    REV. JAVEDYOUNUS
    H # 13 OUT FALL RD U.V.A.S. LAHORE
    P.C # 54000
    PAKISTAN
    EBSITE.

  7. “If we are without Christ, then the Bible says that we are a disgusting corpse whose righteousness is as good as rags full of leprosy pus. However, if we have Christ, we have become a new, complete, beautiful creation of God. ”
    Hi could you please tell me what bible verse this comes from.
    with Thanks
    Jo

  8. Jo,

    Sorry it’s taken a while for me to reply. I just saw your comment. You’re actually referencing a few different passages.

    Isaiah 64:6 says, “We have all become like one who is unclean,
    and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.”

    2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

  9. Hey P. Pidcock,

    I recently found your blog as both a devout Christian and an ardent Shrek fan, and I must say, I never thought there was such an intersection between the teachings of Christ and the story of one green ogre and his donkey, nor did I consider that a seemingly-superficial film would have such meaningful layers to it. The first Shrek film is a true masterpiece when viewed in this light; however, I can’t help but wonder if perhaps Dreamworks was merely lucky rather than truly skilled, as they completely dropped the ball with Shrek 2, Shrek the Third, Shrek Forever After, and the numerous short films, television specials, and Puss In Boots spin-offs (not to mention Shrek the Musical and Disney on Ice). In fact, any semblance of Christian allegory is completely stripped from the later Shrek films, so much so that I cannot seem to fit them to the Christian canon. It is a shame that Dreamworks sold out and produced these not canon works, effectively making a literal ogre of the Shrek legacy.

  10. Thank you so much for showing me how much Shrek’s teachings can apply to make a better society and make my life better. Shrek is love. Shrek is life 🙂

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