New Orleans Square: Be On Your Guard
(If you call the arches you pass under to get into Town Square a clear entry sign, then it definitely counts as the only one.)
Think about it. Off the Central Hub there are signs at the entrances of Frontierland, Adventureland, and Tomorrowland. Fantasyland has Sleeping Beauty Castle—a pretty clear entry.Mickey’s Toontown has a large sign over its entrance. Even Critter Country has its own sign. Only New Orleans Square lacks a clear demarcation.
Why? As far as I know, there is no “official” reason (though if you know of one, please let me know in the comments below!). However, when we think about what New Orleans Square represents, a reason emerges that has a lesson for us.
The setting of New Orleans Square is Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday. In some religious traditions, Ash Wednesday begins the 40 day period of fasting known as Lent, leading up to Easter Sunday. Because this period of fasting is coming, a “celebration” is held the day before, basically the chance to do all the stuff you want to do before you have to behave and deprive yourself for 6 weeks.
Mardi Gras is known for its festive atmosphere…and often for its rowdiness, extensive consumption of alcohol, and even debauchery. The family-friendly version of this is what’s supposed to be captured in New Orleans Square.
As nice a face as Disney puts on it, and as much fun as this sanitized version is, what’s celebrated in New Orleans Square is sin.
Wandering into Sin
It’s easy for us as humans—Christian or not—to wander into that territory unaware or unintentionally. That’s not really the problem—the problem is becoming aware of it and choosing to stay there—but if we stay out of it to begin with, we’re that much better off. Of course, Satan would like nothing better than to lure us straight into it.
Is there any wonder that there is no warning or announcement of entry into this land?
For a long time now, the church as a whole has been very focused on sin, atonement, escaping Hell, etc., even to the point of legalism at times. Now there is a strong push back in the direction of grace. That’s a good thing.
We are saved by grace. Nothing we do can make God love us more…or less. We can’t earn His favor, and we don’t have to. He came to us right where we are, as sinners, and saved us because of His love for us. That’s the Good News.
However, some of that push towards grace has led people to forget a key truth. When we sin, we are forgiven, but that doesn’t mean that we just go on as we are with no attempt to change or to sin less. [Tweet that] It doesn’t mean that we don’t try to avoid sin and to resist temptation.
“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.” (1 Corinthians 16:13)
“Then He said to them, ‘Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.’” (Luke 12:15)
“Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.” (1 Peter 3:17-18)
We are told very clearly to be on guard, to be watchful, to make an effort to avoid sin. Yes, we are free in Christ, but that does not give us license to just go through life as we are, never seeking to grow or be perfected through Christ. And that doesn’t just happen. It requires intentionality on our part. We don’t just go on sinning, living our lives knowing that we’re loved and forgiven, and just leaving it at that.
“What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” (Romans 6:1-4)
Grace and Truth
One of the most destructive lies of the Devil is “You’ll never be good enough. God could never love you.” Another one is, “You’re fine just as you are. God already loves you, just keep doing what you’re doing an don’t worry about it.”
Part of being a Christian is growing in Christ, and that means sinning less. We’ll never be perfect this side of heaven, but have you grown from where you were last year? When we do sin, we repent. That doesn’t mean trying to not sin, it means agreeing with God that what we’ve done is sin and choosing to do something different (some people only see repentance as one part or the other, but it’s both).
This comes not from trying to earn favor, but out of gratitude and love. The motivation is grace. The opposite of grace isn’t inaction, though, it’s merit. We can’t earn grace, but that doesn’t mean we do nothing to change and grow.
A swing of the pendulum all the way over to grace and not being concerned about sin, not trying to become better than we have been, takes us straight into New Orleans Square, and with no sign announcing it, before we realize what’s happened we’ve become ensnared.
Jesus was full of grace and truth. To become like Him means to have both. [Tweet that]
Question: Do you agree with the statements above that we’re expected to grow in Christ and become “better people” or is it enough to just accept God’s grace and live “free in Christ”? Talk about it in the comments below, or on our Facebook page.