I remember growing up on Disney movies. Most of us do. Few can’t identify these classics: Cinderella, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Bambi, The Rescuers….well, you get the point. One of my personal favorites was Pinocchio. I mean, who wouldn’t want a toy that came to life? (It’s not like there was Toy Story when I was a kid!). Giminy Cricket was the man. Gepetto was a loving maker. And Pinocchio was an innocent kid discovering the world. Just an all around great story. One of the parts that I always seemed to remember was the scene where Pinocchio and other boys are escorted off to Pleasure Island. After enjoying all the “pleasures” offered to them there, the boys begin to turn into donkeys and are then taken into captivity to work as slave animals. I remember being really terrified of that part. I wondered whether that could really happen. A boy turning into a donkey that is. A donkey didn’t seem like a good thing to be. It definitely wasn’t a good thing in the movie.
I remember thinking about Pinocchio recently and the story of Pleasure Island. This time it struck me as a pretty accurate parable for the day and age that we live in today here in America. Like Pinocchio and the other boys wandering the streets, we are innocently offered the opportunity to indulge in some of the more pleasurable things that people enjoy. And in America, there is no shortage of salesmen seeking to convince us that what they have to offer us will make life really satisfying. America is a fun place to live, make no mistake. Sports, movies, I-pods, facebook, etc…., Every week many anticipate the newest blockbuster film, gadget, or toy. We love to be entertained, and in America, most of us have the money to indulge.
The vast majority of us probably don’t even think about this at all. We are too drunk on our own pleasure to take note. Unfortunately, most of us also have no idea what all of this may very well be doing to us, and what it will ultimately lead us to, captivity and destruction. Left vulnerable and unaware in our own excessive indulgence, we are slowly and subtly herded into slavery. We are entertained unto our very destruction. Too distracted by our own pursuit of worldly pleasure, captivated by the trivial and inconsequential, we walk away from Jesus. Listen, whether people like it or not, college football and national championships are trivial when seen within the broader scope of what the Bible tells us really matters. Fashion and clothing, I-pods, I-pads, 3-D flat-screen TV’s, the new Twilight movie (don’t get me started on that one) and all of the other things we spend much of our time thinking about and plotting to possess, have zero eternal value. And yet they dominate our lives too often don’t they? Meanwhile seeking the kingdom of God, death to self in pursuit of Christ and the advance of His kingdom, gets cursory attention in our lives.
Here me clearly, I don’t think this means we can’t own an I-pod or go to movies or root for our favorite sports team. I do all these things (though I certainly am in need of the kind of evaluation I am speaking of here as much as the next guy). What we must concern ourselves with however, is the cumulative effect of all that is thrust before us to win our time, energy, and satisfaction. And tragically, what most of us probably have to come to grips with, once we see our lives through the right lens, a biblical lens, is that we have turned away from God for more trivial pleasures.
This is gross sin. It mocks God. It dishonors His name and His worth. We must recognize it for the shameful thing that it is. And so we are transformed into donkeys of our own in a way. Though we may not realize it, we are displayed from an eternal perspective, to be the fools we have lived as. One day however, it will be very evident. And then it will be too late.
It’s easy to be mesmerized by the glitz and glamour, the entertaining power of our culture. The devil is a great salesman. Tragically many of us, even some of us sitting in church every Sunday (who may very well be thinking about the football game we can’t wait to get home to watch if the preacher would just hurry up and finish), will be deceived into jumping on the wagon headed for Pleasure Island. If only we realized what we were really doing.
Let us not be deceived brothers and sisters. For the sake of our own souls. For the sake of the glory of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ.