Dedication Plaque: 7 Aspects of a Vibrant Christian Life
“To all who come to this happy place: welcome. Disneyland is your land. Here age relives fond memories of the past — and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future. Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams and the hard facts that have created America — with the hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world.”
With these words, Walt Disney dedicated Disneyland on Opening Day, July 17, 1955, and in doing so set the stage for what was to come for guests–that day and the almost 60 years that have passed since then.
If we break it down into its individual sections, it sets the stage for something else: the 7 things you need to have for a vibrant Christian life. Now, I’m not saying without one or more of these you aren’t a Christian, just that without them it’s not the abundant life you could have. So what are these 7 parts? Today we’ll look at the first 3, and next time the remaining 4.
To all who come to this happy place: welcome. – Before the “what,” this is the “who.” If you have “come to this happy place,” then everything Walt is about to say applies to you. If not, it doesn’t. No matter how much you know about the place, have read about it, heard about it, or talked about it. It simply doesn’t apply to you. Oh, you may get a taste of them, but not the full impact. Not even close.
That’s also how these descriptors are. If you’re a Christian, they apply. If not, they don’t. Sure, if you try really hard or happen to have a certain personality type you may get some of this, but not all, and not in the full measure. I’m not trying to be exclusionary or mean; this is just the way it is.
Disneyland is your land. – In paying this, Walt explicitly gave ownership to the guests. Not of the park itself, nor of the Cast Members, but of the experiences, the traditions, and the stories. We bear a certain responsibility to keep Disneyland from “losing its way,” and keep it true to its mission (to be a place where parents and their children can have fun, together) and its values (detail, lack of visual contradictions, immersiveness, storytelling, etc.). It’s also up to us as guests to spread the word. Marketing is good, but satisfied guests who tell others is better.
In Jude 1:3, Paul tells us to “…contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people.” We have a responsibility to the faith, because it is ours. No, we don’t own the means of salvation (Jesus) or get to dictate the way the way it operates (that’s why Jesus taught us to pray for God’s will to be done), but in a very real sense, it is ours. It was given to us to use, to share, and to protect. We don’t do that with “us vs. them” thinking and actions, though. It’s standing up for truth in a loving, respectful, and grace-filled way. In doing so, we act as “ministers of reconciliation,”acting as Christ’s ambassadors, with the message of the Gospel that He has entrusted to us.
Here age relives fond memories of the past… – Main Street U.S.A. is an idealized version of Walt’s boyhood home, Marceline, MO and Harper Goff’s hometown of Fort Collins, CO. It is a reminder of where they came from, the happy memories of their childhood. Not everyone had a place like that, but by being here, we can share in those special memories, even if it’s of a place we’ve yet to see in our “real lives.”
A vibrant faith is one that remembers. We remember Christ’s sacrifice through His death, burial, and resurrection. We remember those who have gone before us. And we remember what God has done for us. Jesus told His disciples to use The Lord’s Supper (also known as Communion or Eucharist, depending on one’s tradition) to remember His death until He comes again. The writer of Hebrews calls us to remember the “great cloud of witnesses”–those “faith heroes” he described in the previous chapter who have gone before us. And in 1 Corinthians 6, Paul reminds us of who and what we once were, which we can now celebrate that we are no longer like that but have been saved and restored to a relationship with God.
To know where you’re gong, you must know where you came from.
… and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future. – Adventureland is all about exploring strange and exotic new places. Undiscovered challenges and excitement. Tomorrowland is the future embodied. Because the future is always changing, it’s hard for Imagineers to keep up with (or ahead of), but that was the vision. “A step into the future, with predictions of constructive things to come.” Everything is possible, but only with dedication, hope, and a willingness to explore.
A vibrant faith is one of adventure. We may not always choose the adventures, but they’re out there. And they come in many forms: new opportunities, exploration and travel, miracles, illness, loss, struggle, triumph, and tragedy. We can call these adventures because “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” That doesn’t make them easy, or less risky, or in some cases less scary. What it does is give us opportunity after opportunity to trust Him and follow Him. As I heard in a sermon recently, “The safest place we can be is in the arms of God. When we’re there, everything, even death, is a safe place.”
That brings us to the end of part 1 of this topic. Next time we’ll look at the other 4 aspects.
Kingdom Thinking: How do each of these 3 rate in your life? Which one can you prayerfully intentionally develop?