I approached The Croods with caution. In fact, I hadn’t planned on watching it in theaters until a few days before it came out. My primary motivation was to support animated films in general, in the fallout from a recent rash of studios closing and mass layoffs/cancelled projects. I should have had more confidence in Chris Sanders to spin a good tale, as he always does. I’d put him up there with Brad Bird for storytellers that love to tell redemption stories. And that’s what The Croods is, a story of redemption and hope.
Grug is the father of a family of cavemen who live in a rocky desert-like terrain. There used to be more cave-families around, but they all died. To keep his family safe, Grug makes several rules that keep his family from dying. His daughter, Eep doesn’t like the rules because they keep her from experiencing new things; she is very curious. Grug tells a story using the cave wall as a drawing surface. The moral of his story is that disobeying the rules and pursuing “new things” will lead to death. Grug’s family’s mantra is “Never not be afraid!”
A long time ago, in our world, God chose for Himself a family, The decedents of Jacob (Israel), and to them he gave certain rules, specifically The Ten Commandments. These rules would keep them safe, and set them apart from the people around them. Like Grug’s former neighbors, the neighboring nations to Israel were always doing stupid things and getting themselves into trouble and even wiped off the face of the Earth. But God knew something Grug didn’t. God knew that, even with the rules, His family wouldn’t truly be living. The Law is good, and was made as a loving gift from God to His people, but it wasn’t going to solve their real problem. You see, the word “rule” is the same word used for the measuring device, ruler. A typical U.S. ruler is 12 inches long. If you need to measure to see if something is a foot long, you’d compare it with a ruler. (Let’s hope Subway is reading this.) If the thing is the same size as your ruler, you know it’s a foot. That’s the same way rules work, they tell us how we SHOULD be, and we can compare ourselves to the rule and see if we “measure up”. The thing is, compared to God’s law, we never measure up; and when we read about Israel’s history, we see that God’s family didn’t either.
Grug’s world is about to end though, and Eep meets someone who knows the way to live through it: a young man named Guy. He tells them that “The End” is coming, and the only way to not end with it is to STOP relying on the rules to save them, and instead, follow the Sun to the mountains in the distance. Guy promises them that they will make it to “Tomorrow”, where there will be more Suns than could be counted. The family follows him and the trip there isn’t easy, but Guy gives them things to help them along the way, such as shoes and methods to stay alive. It is clear that without Guy’s help, none of them would survive the trip.
We learn from Scripture that the rules were giving to let us know what is right; but they aren’t enough to save us from death. In fact, a Day is coming when no one will survive, even if they follow the Law perfectly (as if one could). Jesus came to show us the Way to make it to Tomorrow, by following Him. Jesus didn’t merely tell us how to do it, by giving us rules to follow; He actually walks with us along the way.
The family gets to the mountains and Grug agrees that it isn’t enough to move into a cave in this new location and return to the old ways. They could do it, but there is no guarantee they will survive, and even if they do, they wouldn’t be happy. Eep makes a very bold and revealing statement about her experience of life under the rule of “Never not be afraid!”, that is: “Living in fear is not living! It’s just not dying!” Grug realizes that there’s something more for his family than staying alive, and being locked up in a cave is not truly living. The best thing for them is to continue on with Guy to Tomorrow.
This is a lot like what Christ tells us. He said that the reason He came to Earth was so that we might have life in the fullest. That’s a remarkable statement that is often overlooked. What does life to the fullest mean? It means that we will not be under the weight of the Law or the fear of death! Both of those things are resolved by the cross. How many times do we read in scripture that we should not fear? Of course, God adds the caveat “Because I am with you.” In fact, cowards are listed among the classes of sinners who are in the Lake of Fire. That goes to show that being afraid a terrible sin.
When the time comes to cross over into Tomorrow, a huge impassible chasm forms to block their way. This is where the roles change. Grug has restored his position from Guy as leader of the group, and he decides that crossing his family to Tomorrow is worth everything. He uses his strength to throw his family across the chasm, giving up his life for theirs.
Greater love has no man than this, that he lays down his life for his friends. Jesus also saw the impassible chasm between his family and Life. So He did what no one else could, He gave up His life so we could live.
Grug went back into the mountain, into a dark cave. As he waits to die, he tells himself, and us, another story. This is the first time he tells a story that doesn’t end in death. In fact, it ends in life for everyone He loves. Grug does find a way to Tomorrow and he and his family are able to finally truly live.
Of course, when Christ gave up His life he went into a dark cave for three days. But it didn’t end there, He is Risen, and we know that He will be with us always, now and into our “Tomorrow”, which is Eternity.
- Grug has many rules for his family. What rules did God give to us? (Exodus 20)
- Why did God give us the Ten Commandments? (Romans 3:19-24)
- Grug tells his family to “Never NOT be afraid.” What does God tell us about fear? (Isaiah 41:10, Psalm 23:4, 2 Timothy 1:7, John 14:27)
- What does Tomorrow look like? What does the Bible tell us Eternity will be like for those who love the Lord? (1 Cor. 2:9, Luke 23:43)