Mickey Mouse is no theologian. He is a mouse.
But that one mouse informs more people of their worldview than any professional theologian or philosopher.
You see – stuck inside all those catchy songs and memorable movies are all kinds of statements about how the world works, or does not work. And most everyone believes they are true.
But how do you tell the fact from the fiction?
Please “be my guest” as I evaluate 10 magical Disney sayings – I hope this encourages you to think carefully next time you enter the Magic Kingdom!
1) “When you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are, anything your heart desires will come to you.” – Jiminey Crickey. (Pinocchio, 1940)
FALSE – I hate to burst your bubble – but there is no evidence that stars contain any power to either notice you (regardless of who you are) or respond to your heart’s desires.
However, there is a real person who does have the power to help you. Jesus encouraged His followers to seek God as the source of all good things in this life: “How much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11).
2) “Ariel, listen to me; the human world, it’s a mess.” – Sebastian (Little Mermaid, 1989)
TRUE –Sebastian was an unappreciated voice of wisdom, and regarding the “human world” he was spot on!
Consider that the 20th century was the bloodiest and most violent in recorded history, and the 21st is not off to a good start. I love that the Bible is brutally honest about how messed up the world is. We can’t find a solution until we are willing to look at the problems. The Apostle Paul warned Timothy a young pastor, “Evil men and imposters will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” (2 Timothy 3:13)
3) “Hakuna Matata! What a wonderful phrase! Hakuna Matata! Ain’t no passing craze! It means no worries for the rest of your days. It’s our problem-free philosophy.” – Pumbaa and Timon (Lion King, 1994)
FALSE – Pumbaa and Timon sang a nice song – but a “problem-free philosophy” does not exist. False hope is no hope.
Like Sebastian (and unlike the warthog) Jesus was, again, honest about how difficult this life can be. Hope is found through faith in Him: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33)
4) “It’s a small world after all.” (Disney Attraction. Song by Sherman and Sherman, 1966)
TRUE – Human hearts have far more in common than they have differences. Humanity longs for peace, justice, prosperity and hope. And every nation struggles with corruption, pride, war, and poverty. It is a small world indeed.
It is amazing to consider that everything Jesus taught is cross-cultural and applies equally well in any socio-economic, political or ethnic setting. Jesus said, “For God so loved the world…” His love is global. And the Bible gives this glimpse of heaven: “Before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.” Revelation 7:9.
5) “Woody once risked his life to save me. I couldn’t call myself his friend if I weren’t willing to do the same.” – Buzz Lightyear (Toy Story, 1995)
TRUE – The ultimate measure of friendship is being willing to sacrifice your life. Buzz and Woody are two of the best friends ever put on the silver screen. Their sacrifice and brotherly love for one another are a great example for you and I. Do you have such a friend?
Jesus said it this way, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13). And then do you know what Jesus did? He sacrificed His life on the cross so that you could have eternal life. (Romans 5:8, John 3:16). THAT is how much He loves you!
6) “Fairy tales can come true. You gotta make them happen, it all depends on you.” – Tiana, (Princess and the Frog, 2009)
FALSE – The hardworking Tiana put all the pressure on herself to change her life and bring about happiness. And while working hard is great – you don’t have the power to make your dreams come true.
The Bible teaches that God has a plan for each of our lives. This plan may not be at all what you expected, but it will be more incredible than you ever imagined. And the reason why it will work out, is because of God’s power, not our own. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declared the Lord, “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. To give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11
7) “Put your faith in what you most believe in.” – Tarzan (Tarzan, 1999)
FALSE – Just like “wishing on a star” is a nice sentiment but holds no water – Tarzan needed to stick to swinging on vines, and back off the positive thinking mantras.
The key issue is not your faith, but the OBJECT of your faith. If a prince from Nigeria e-mails me (as he has on multiple occasions) to tell me I have inherited $10 million dollars – if only I would please forward my bank account information to him – I can have all the faith in the world his promise is true – and it will do me no good when my account is cleared out. Jesus said, “Believe in God. Believe also in me.” (John 14:1) Putting faith in Jesus is the only sure investment you can make in this short life.
8) “When life gets you down do you wanna know what you’ve gotta do? Just keep swimming!” –Dory (Finding Nemo, 2003)
TRUE – When the hard times come the Bible has one clear command -“Endure!” Keep going. Don’t give up. The theological word is “persevere.”
Again, the Bible doesn’t promise an easy or “problem free” life, but it does promise that Jesus will help you through hard times and to be with you every step of the way. Just like Dory and Marlin helped each other – we need God by our side when the storms come. “We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance.” (Romans 5:3)
9) “All it takes is faith and trust…and a little bit of pixie dust!” – Peter Pan (Peter Pan, 1953)
2/3rds TRUE – As far as I know pixie dust isn’t real, but 2 out of 3 is not bad! The Bible teaches us to live by faith and not by sight. Faith and trust are vital to pleasing God with our lives.
We learned from Tarzan that “faith in faith” is not the answer but faith in Jesus is. Perhaps the most well know verse in the Bible is John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.” Another verse says, “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” The great reformer Martin Luther said “Faith alone in Christ alone.” No pixie dust needed.
10) “And they lived happily every after!” (various…)
TRUE – Walt Disney was no Shakespeare – you will find no tragic endings in his portfolio of stories. And just as nearly all Disney characters face great villains and overcome obstacles to arrive at a happy ending – so too the Christian story is about of overcoming evil and ending in victory and joy.
The real dream, however, is not to find a prince or princess, or defeat a dragon. The real dream is to defeat death itself and to find eternal life. The good news is that this is possible if you put your faith in Jesus Christ.
Where, O death, is your victory? Where O death is your sting?
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!
1 Corinthians 15;55-57
If you have never done so, I encourage you to put your faith in Jesus today.
He gave up his life for you on the cross so that your sins could be forgiven.
He rose from the dead and thus conquered death once and for all.
So you can enjoy an abundant and eternal life.
That is what true dreams are made of.