Although I loved Beauty and the Beast growing up and enjoy watching Once Upon a Time every now and then, I find myself identifying with the character of Cinderella lately. And it’s not because I want a Prince Charming. It’s more that I think a lot of people (including myself) can identify with this idea of eventually being rewarded for all the hard work we do. In spite of what some Protestant denominations say, salvation isn’t gained by Faith Alone nor can someone do a million good deeds to earn their way into Heaven. And if you don’t believe me, please refer to these 2 Scripture passages:
“See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.And in the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by a different route? For just as a body without a spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.” James 2:24-26
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’In spite of what some Protestant denominations say, salvation isn’t gained by Faith Alone nor can someone do a million good deeds to earn their way into Heaven. And if you don’t believe me,” Matthew 25: 31-40
So how does the idea of faith and good works apply to the story of Cinderella? Let’s start at the beginning. For the sake of simplicity, I’m only going to refer to the live-action Cinderella directed by Kenneth Branagh. Spoilers ensue. You were warned.
The basic story of Cinderella is that the titular character believes in being good in spite of how her stepmother and stepsisters treat her. She makes the best out of a bad situation. And before a million angry detractors ask me “Why doesn’t she just leave?” there is a scene where someone asks her that exact question. The house is all that Cinderella has left of her family and doesn’t want to see it fall to ruin. There are a lot of small instances of Vinderella being active in her kindness, mostly in the form of her kindness towards her animal friends.
Another indication of Cinderella being active is that she creates a dress on her own, inspired by the faith that she will be able to go to the ball. Her faith gets shaken when Lady Tremaine rips up a sleeve, but in spite of her sadness, Cinderella goes out of her way to give a bowl of milk to an old lady sitting out in the garden. Hebrews 13:2 comes to mind: “Do not neglect hospitality, for through it some have unknowingly entertained angels.” The old lady turns out to be Cinderella’s fairy godmother. Once at the ball, Cinderella spends times with the prince and runs off as midnight draws near. As the carriage and servants slowly turn back into lizards and pumpkins, Cinderella still has the glass slipper, a sign of her faith, and walks the rest of the way home.
The last instance of faith and good works is seen in the end, when Cinderella chooses to have faith that things will work out in spite of her being locked in the attic. The mice open a window as she sings. It’s through Cinderella’s singing (her good works) that the men down below realize there’s another lady upstairs.
Cinderella gets rewarded for her faith and good works by gaining a kingdom. As the Beatitudes remind us, those of us who are poor in spirit, merciful, pure of heart, hungry for righteousness, and suffer persecution for the sake of Christ will gain the kingdom, the kingdom of Heaven.