Yesterday I shared 5 lessons the church can learn from Disney World. Today, I want to share 5 things I, as a pastor and a dad, wish I could share with them.
#1. Your Conscience Cannot Be Your Guide.
Poor, poor Jiminy Cricket. He is famous for saying, “Let your conscience be your guide.” I heard it several times last week. The only problem with this is that, well, our conscience is messed up. Left to ourselves (and our consciences) we will guide ourselves off a cliff. Read Jeremiah 17:9 for yourself. If you or I let our conscience guide us . . . it’s over.
#2. Something Far Greater Than Our Dreams Has Come True.
“Dreams come true!” If I heard that once, I heard it 568 times. I still find myself saying it in my mind throughout the day. Now you need to know I’m all about dreams. The ones in my sleep and the ones when I let my mind wander during the day. I love to dream about the future. I hope my kids dream about what they can see accomplished in their lifetime. I am all about wishful and hopeful thinking. But if all I focus on is my dreams coming true, then I settle for shallow. Something so much greater than anything I could dream up has happened. You see, even though I am an evil sinner (see #1), God has done everything necessary for me to be right with Him – FOREVER. He sent Someone – His only Son – to be my Substitute. This man – Jesus – lived the perfect life I could never live, and bore the punishment I deserved. Because of His life, death, burial, and resurrection – I can now live with and for my Creator throughout all eternity. This isn’t a dream. It’s truth. And it is far greater than any dream I ever could have imagined with my own mind.
#3. Imagination Cannot Cure My Kid’s Sin Nature.
Again, I am all for imagination. My imagination and your imagination are gifts from a good God. My children’s imaginations are wonderful and remarkable – and quite hilarious – things. For Disney, however, that seemed to be the “cure all.” Everything was about “imagining this” or “imagining that.” If you and I imagine enough, everything will be okay. Imagination is wonderful. But it is limited. I noticed that – though my kids imagined from the time they woke up until the time they went to sleep for 5 days straight – they still were selfish little sinners at the end of the week. They still fought on the way home. They still disobeyed me and their mom at home on Saturday. They still were – well – the same.
Imagination is wonderful – but it cannot make my children “new creatures.” Only a supernatural God can do that by giving them new hearts and new minds and new natures. They can’t imagine themselves into new beings. But a good and loving God can.
An obvious and glorious observation anyone can make walking anywhere on Disney’s campus is that every parent loves their child/children. It’s why they save up and spend hundreds and thousands of dollars to take them there. Disney is an amazing place. It is a child’s wonderland. Parents take their children because they love them and long to see the looks on their faces when they see Mickey and Minnie and Donald and Pluto.
That love that a parent has is given by God for the glory of God. I cannot tell you how many times Katie and I looked around us to make sure we had all three of ours close to us. It was a constant search to ensure their close proximity. If I, though a sinful dad, am constantly on the lookout for the whereabouts of my children – how much more does my heavenly Father look after me? Parental love is a pointer to God’s love for His children.
Were it not for God’s planting of love in the hearts of parents for their children – Disney would not exist. [Side note: It is hard to imagine how they could ever promote homosexuality or abortion. If either of these dominated society, children would begin to cease to exist. No children, no Disney. . . end Side Note.]
God did it this way to be a pointer to Himself.
#5. Almost All of Your Movies Point to Our Ultimate Wish.
Disney, I noticed last week that virtually every film you create – at least the “BIGGIES” – all have a similar plot line: Main character (whom everyone loves immediately) is getting along in life just fine; an evil character rises up to disrupt things from going smooth; it looks like the evil character is going to get his/her way; someone – the hero – intervenes to stop the wicked plan; the main character triumphs and wins the day.
This too is a pointer to the ultimate story: the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
God created us in His image. The evil one – Satan – tempted us and we blew it by disobeying God’s good design. God – in love – sent the Savior – the Rescuer – the Redeemer, to fix the problem. Jesus came and died, was buried, and then resurrected from the dead. Satan is defeated. Sin is conquered. Man triumphs due to the hero that is Jesus.
This is our heart’s desire. This is the Story of all stories. It is what all of Disney’s stories point to. There has been a Hero who has come. He has loved us by dying for us. We win because of His victory and triumph.
Let me close by being super clear: I LOVED taking my children to Disney World and am thankful to God for the opportunity to do so. We had an incredible time and loved every second of it. So much of what they do is absolutely breathtaking and incredible. Their theatrics are over the top. I will definitely learn from them. Their theology? Well, it needs work.
I just wish – perhaps on a star (just kidding!) – they could see how the Gospel speaks to so much of what they do.
What else would you Disney lovers add to what they could perhaps learn from the church?