Thanks largely in part to the generosity of my father-in-law, my family was able to spend five days in Disney World in June. It was truly one of the most amazing experiences we’ve ever had. Disney does everything with excellence and efficiency, from transporting tens of thousands of people around their grounds to putting on some of the most astounding shows you will ever see. The things they value were clearly apparent everywhere we looked. It was very obvious they were deeply concerned with cleanliness, customer service, environmental responsibility, and kindness.
One of the things that stood out to me the most was their commitment to authenticity and consistency. This was evidenced by the standards they held for their employees, specifically their character actors. For example, the actors must be the proper height to even be considered for a part. They are trained in how to walk, what body language to use, and even how to autograph the character’s name.
Once they’re in costume and in public, they must NEVER break character! This means Tinkerbell will never be seen outside of the Neverland sections of their parks, and she will never not act like Tinkerbell. Ultimately, the goal is no matter who, how, when or why someone looks at Tinkerbell, they will see her exactly the way she was created to be. As an organization, they want to honor the characters to the absolute best of their abilities.
After all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
This got me to wondering: do I play the part of a Christ follower so well that no matter who, how, when or why someone looks at me, they always see me exactly the way I was created to be?
The answer to that question is obviously a resounding “NO!” Unlike the actresses who play Tinkerbell in Disney World, I break character at times. There are times that I am quickly upset despite being told numerous times in the Bible that the Lord is slow to anger. There are times when I lose patience in parenting and upset my children regardless of the Biblical instruction to not embitter them.
I do these things even though it is very clear to me that the character I am trying to emulate, Jesus, never did those things. This is why I completely understand where Paul was coming from when in Romans 7, he wondered out loud why he sinned even though he knew right from wrong. You have likely had this internal battle take place in your own head. “Why do I do things I know I shouldn’t? Why don’t I do things I know I should?”
Tinkerbell taught me this: while I can never be the original character, my job is to be as much like Him as possible. Our goal should be to have people look at us and see Jesus. They should see us acting like Jesus, talking like Jesus, treating people the way Jesus did.
After all, imitation is also the sincerest form of worship.
I take personally the charge by Jesus to live such good lives that people may see my good deeds and glorify our heavenly Father (Matthew 5:16). Peter echoed the charge in 1 Peter 2:11-12. I can only imagine the disappointment and confusion my daughter would experience if we had seen Tinkerbell take her wings and wig off, light up a cigarette and start cussing like a sailor. Walt Disney would roll over in his grave at the dishonor shown to himself as the creator, and who he created Tinkerbell to be.
There is no way God is in any way pleased with us in the moments we dishonor Him as our creator and the original character He has tasked us to emulate.
My challenge to you is to to remain dedicated and steadfast in your role– to live in such a way that even unbelievers are impressed. Leave no question as to who it is you are trying to portray. Realize that as Christians, we are always “on.” When people look at you, may they see Jesus.