Dedication Plaque: 7 Aspects of a Vibrant Christian Life, Part 2
Last time, we looked at the first 3 aspects of a vibrant Christian life, drawn from the famous words of Walt’s Opening Day dedication speech. Today, we finish with the remaining 4.
Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals… – Some dislike Disneyland because it’s “too perfect” and so it feels fake to them. But being idealized is what makes Disneyland work–lack of visual contradictions, rose-colored memories, a sense of risk without being in real danger. These are what make Disneyland what it is. It’s the best version of what these places can be. New Orleans Square is a cleaned up version of the real New Orleans. Who has imagined a place like Critter Country, with journeys into the actual pages of storybooks, finding your laughing place, and singing along with all manner of, well, “critters.”
A vibrant faith is one of character, and character development. We recognize that developing character is part of growing in Christ, and we embrace it. This is where our values are shaped and tested. As with the other facets, that doesn’t mean it’s easy, just that it’s valuable and necessary. So we are protective of who we allow into our inner circle (since “Bad company corrupts good character“) and when we suffer, we recognize that it’s developing our character, which is an important step in our journey towards Christlikeness. As our character develops in this way, we being to find that living for Christ requires less “trying” because it starts to flow more and more out of who we are.
…the dreams… – What would Disneyland be without looking to what may be, what can be, and what might be? Walt envisioned it as a place where the dreams of people, of children, of “the American dream,” the dream for freedom, and more could all be played out, explored, and embraced. Perhaps no land showcases that more than Tomorrowland. Even with the addition of Marvel characters, it still reflects our dreams, even if not of the future. We aspire here. We reach beyond our horizons.
A vibrant faith is one of vision. Vision for our lives, for our communities, and for our world. By definition that means looking beyond how things are to how they can be, how God wants them to be. When Jesus prayed, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” He was asking for what would be, but was not yet reality. The writer of Hebrews says that He endured the cross “for the joy set before Him,” looking beyond what was to the future He knew was coming.
If we remain stuck in what is, or what we fear will be, we’ll never experience a dynamic faith.
…and the hard facts that have created America… – One reason Disneyland works is that the fantasy, the idealized nostalgia, and more are also grounded in reality. Frontierland is dedicated to both the real history of America and our folktales. Fantasyland has real morals to the stories, but the land itself is the counter to it. Even Main Street has connections to real towns, real people, and a real era. Just don’t confuse the parts that are reality with the parts that are supposed to be fantasy.
A vibrant faith is one of reality. Contrary to the opinion of some, faith doesn’t mean “believing something on the basis of no evidence.” Real faith, biblical faith, is not blind. It considers evidence, reason, and logic, and the conclusions that they point to. There is always a point where faith goes beyond reason and evidence, but it is not in opposition to them. When we get caught up in fantasy, we risk a severe letdown when the fantasy evaporates. That’s why, to paraphrase Admiral Stockdale, it’s important to accept the brutal facts of life, while holding unswervingly to a belief that we will prevail. True freedom comes from reality, from truth. As Jesus said, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
…with the hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world. – The story of Mickey’s Toontown is that it’s always been there, and when Walt was looking for a place to build Disneyland, they suggested building it in Anaheim, right next to their town. But he was the only one allowed to go there at first. It wasn’t until 1993 that they decided to open up the gates and invite all those who had come to Disneyland to visit their homes, too. They reached out to the world. But nearly four decades earlier, Walt wanted Disneyland to be a place that showed the best of America, the best of creativity and knowledge and innovation and daring, the best of people and what we can do and be, to the world. Disneyland did not exist for itself and those who visited, but to make an impact on the world.
A vibrant faith is one of purpose–a purpose larger than ourselves. When Abram was called back in Genesis 12, he was told, “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; … and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” Over time, many of his descendants lost sight of that, but God’s originally stated purpose was that all nations would be blessed through this one. And when Jesus gave His final instructions to His disciples He said, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…” Our faith is not for ourselves, or at least not only for ourselves. We are to be a blessing to others, to be a light that shows them the way to God, and to be “Jesus with skin on,” meeting real, tangible needs. A faith that is self-consumed or stays within the “Christian bubble” is anemic at best.
To be a living, vibrant, dynamic faith, it must flow through us in our words and actions to the world around us. We discern and then use the gifts and talents He’s given us to serve others. He uses our experiences to point people to Himself. We are living letters from God to a lost, hurting, and dying world–but letters are no good if they’re tucked away and can’t be read.
A vibrant, living, dynamic, active faith has those 7 characteristics:
Kingdom Thinking: How do each of these 7 rate in your life? Which one can you prayerfully intentionally develop?