Thursday, October 7, 2010

Magic Kingdoms

This year we had the opportunity to take the kids to Disney World. Personally, I did not have an interest in spending my vacation in a crowded amusement park, but we thought that it would be a great experience for the kids, so off we went….

While my kids, in all their innocence, loved the pixies, princesses, and rides, I basically mourned for the state of humanity. Let me not be so negative. I did enjoy some rides and truly loved the time spent together with my kids and wife. But I could not get away from thinking that a place like Disney World reflects all that is WRONG with mankind. There are several reasons why I say this but the main one is that people would rather live in a fantasy world than in reality. I am OK with kids having an imagination and being amazed at meeting an actress dressed as a princess or a big mouse. But when I started seeing adults (20 to 60+years old) jumping in excitement to meet the “fake” princess, or Mickey Mouse (a sweaty guy or gal in a heavy Mouse suit) it disgusted me. Did I mention that the vast majority of these adults did not have children with them or had 1 year old babies which have no idea of where they are at. Yep, these people actually did a 45 minute long line to get an autograph from “the Sleeping Beauty” and picture with a fairy called “thinker”. I was truly tempted to point out to the giddy 40 year old that the “fairy” was normal sized, thereby raising some real questions as to whether she really was “Thinker” from the Peter Pan FICTIONAL STORY FOR KIDS.

I saw this kind of behavior from all types of adults and it got me thinking that most people in the western world behave like this every day! We all do it! We try to escape reality every day. Do you have a TV at home? Internet? Magazines? Fictional Books? Are you a committed sports fan? Do you watch movies? Can you quote a movie by memory? Do you follow a favorite artist/musician? We all try to escape reality by immersing ourselves in an alternative fantasy world. A false “reality” created for the sole purpose of entertaining ourselves! What does entertainment do? What is the purpose of entertainment? To occupy your mind and time in order to forget about the reality called life. Entertainment works like a drug and can be defined as a distraction or diversion. Get it; entertainment is a distraction and diversion from REALITY! Disclaimer: I know sports are “real”, but unless you are employed as an athlete or work for a sports team or organization, being obsessed with a sport, team, or a particular athlete is the same as escaping reality through a fictional character or fantasy world.

How can this be bad? You might say, you go to work, do your job and get a little relaxation through your “entertainment” at home. I wish it were that simple. But the problem is deep, it is spiritual. You see the enemy does not want us to be focused on our condition as sinners in need of a savior or to be spending time reflecting on the Word of God or talking/praying to God. The enemy wants us to be distracted and diverted by the things of this world – whatever that may be in your case.

Heb 12:1 Therefore since we also are surrounded with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily besets us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right of the throne of God.

A runner does not weigh himself down before a race. As a matter of fact he slims himself down. Lightweight pants, jersey, shoes. He goes on a healthy diet, and trims himself to be as efficient as possible. Why? So he can run at his best and win the race.

1Co 9:24 Do you not know that those running in a race all run, but one receives the prize? So run, that you may obtain.

Paul describes our Christianity as a race. We are running towards a goal, which is to be with our Lord. But unlike the dedicated runner, we weight ourselves down with “stuff”. We muck up our minds with the things of this world by loading our brain with useless sport facts, pop culture and/or movie quotes. We grieve the spirit with the violent and perverted images we see and the coarse jokes and language we hear during our “entertainment” time. We dilute our awe and admiration of our Lord, by admiring and worshiping false idols, such as movie stars, musicians, fictional characters, athletes, and other entertainers. We replace the true Kingdom of God with a plastic and lifeless “Magic Kingdom.” Can we really run a good “spiritual” race when we are weighed down by all these diversions and distractions? I don’t think so.

Galatians 5:7 You were running well. Who hindered you that you do not obey the truth?

I can attest to the fact that when I close my eyes to pray, images of “entertainment” come up and fog up & distract my prayer life. I can attest that while worshiping, I am not truly worshiping because my mind drifts away to something else, and that something else is usually some form of “entertainment”. I can attest that while reading God’s Word I have been distracted and diverted by some form of “entertainment”. Why does this happen? Because my mind is filled with way more hours of “entertainment” than of Prayer, Worship, and studying the Scriptures.

Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, pleasing to God, which is your reasonable service. 2And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, in order to prove by you what is that good and pleasing and perfect will of God.

Recently, I was wondering why we do not see the type of miracles that are described in the Bible. The dead come alive, the sick are instantly healed by prayer, sudden rain in a drought, etc… I think part of the reason we do not regularly see these things is because we are so consumed and so deep into our own “fantasy lives” (the pursuit of entertainment, leisure, pleasures) that we do not have the faith to move mountains. When I read accounts of missionaries who left it all (including all forms of “entertainment”) to go share the gospel in hostile lands, or even in our land, there are always accompanied by stories of miracles. Not the “they gave her medicine and she was healed” type of miracle, but the “she was dead and they prayed over her and she is now alive” type of miracle. You see, they are runners who are running without the baggage of the diversions and distractions of this world. They left the world and its “stuff” behind and are running light. They are living sacrifices, holy, not conformed to the world, preserving their mind, heart, and body for service to God. While they run all they carry is Christ, while we try to catch up carrying 200 pounds of worldly lusts in our minds and hearts. (Heck, we can now even carry an extra ton of distraction and diversion in our small hand held TV/Internet/Movie/ Music/video game playing phones.)

2Ti 4:3 For the time will be when they will not endure sound doctrine, but they will heap up teachers to themselves according to their own lusts, tickling the ear. 4 And they will turn away their ears from the truth and will be turned to myths.

While people distract and divert their need for Christ, by immersing themselves in entertainment, leisure, and pleasure, they will never feel the need for a savior. People can easily conceal God’s calling by immersing themselves into a “Magic Kingdom” where “dreams come true”. Seeking happiness, meaning, and fulfillment in a Magic Kingdom, full of plastic trees, robotic animals, false princesses, and large fairies, or in Oprah. Easily ignoring the call to enter through the narrow gate, while merging into that nice wide and comfortable highway that leads straight to hell. Why else do you think it usually requires a tragic event or a scare for people to consider God, or their lack thereof, in their lives? The “event” wakes up the person from their fantasy world of entertainment and temporarily focuses their mind and heart on the reality of life. Once their mind is firmly footed on reality, questions arise such as why am I here?; who made me?; what is my purpose?; why am I so wicked?; what happens when I die?. Basically, the realization of their need for a savior is re-awaked in their lives. Some accept their need for a savior, but sadly others ignore the need or turn back to what they have previously used to plug that need; the diversions and distractions from God and reality called entertainment. Sadly, even those who come to Christ can easily get derailed by the things of this world instead of filling their minds and hearts with the things of God. The pull of the world’s distractions is strong. They make us feel good. They are easy to obtain. They make us forget reality and provide a cheap and instant escape from the inevitable trials of life. On the other hand, Christ forces you to live in reality, to see the sinful fallen world around you, its need for a Savior, and do something about it. But just like we don’t like it when the TV ads of starving kids, disrupt our “entertainment”, we don’t like it when Christ forces us to face reality. We would rather switch the channel and immerse ourselves in a “Plastic Kingdom where all worldly dreams come true”.

1 John 2:15 Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him, 16 because all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passes away, and the lust of it, but he who does the will of God abides forever.