Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Hakuna Matata

According to a reader who posted on the TWE Facebook page (and apparently a book called The Gospel According to Disney: Faith, Trust, and Pixie Dust, which I have not read), Disney's The Lion King has a lot to say about the Christian's journey to become the person God intended him to be, and I'm inclined to agree. From the beginning, when the newborn Simba is anointed and presented to the entire kingdom (think baptism), until he comes to reign over the kingdom at the end (Revelation 2:26-28; 3:21), the film certainly has religious overtones a discerning Christian should not ignore.

Consider these quotes that seem to mirror Scripture:
"Everything the light touches is our kingdom." - Mufasa (Colossians 1:11-14)
"You see? He lives in you!" - Rafiki (John 14:23; 1 John 4:15)
Along the way, the movie illustrates the insidious nature of temptation and how it leads us into danger, gives an example of God's sacrificial love, and shows how Satan tries to use guilt, lies, and accusations to keep us from living up to our calling. But rather than simply rehash what was written on the Facebook post, I want to focus on the motto taught to young Simba by Timon and Pumbaa in a pivotal scene:

On the surface, this philosophy seems attractive. I mean, who wouldn't love to live in a world where there were, as Timon describes it, "No rules, no responsibilities...and best of all, no worries"? Who wouldn't love to just have a day off, like Ferris Bueller, to do whatever we want with no serious repercussions? (Fact: both Adult Simba and Ferris Bueller are portrayed by Matthew Broderick. Do I detect a theme?)

On the surface, too, "Hakuna Matata" seems to be almost Christian. After all, Scriptures teach us to leave our past behind (2 Corinthians 5:17), and Jesus taught that we should not worry (Matthew 6:25-34). But Simba notices in the beginning that something is wrong with the way Timon and Punbaa live out their motto, as illustrated by this brief exchange when the duo are trying to win over the young lion:

Timon: "When the world turns its back on you, you turn your back on the world."
Simba: "That's not what I was taught!"

Unfortunately, Simba gives in. For years, he lives happily with his friends out in the wilderness, but he doesn't realize what is happening in the kingdom where he belongs.

We, as Christians, must hold fast to the truth. We live in a world that more and more believes, as Scar tries to say, that, "Truth is in the eye of the beholder." But the Bible proclaims absolute truth that cannot and should not be compromised. When someone tries to convince us of something that doesn't line up with Scripture, we need to hold fast to the truth and never let go. (John 8:31-32; Romans 1:18-25; 1 Thessalonians 5:21)

The problem with "Hakuna Matata" is not the part about leaving behind our worries - certainly, Jesus would have us replace any worry with faith in God - but the problem is that instead of replacing worries with faith in God, "Hakuna Matata" is about avoiding worry by avoiding responsibility. In the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), Jesus makes it clear that God is not pleased by apathy. Rather, he expects us to take action when others are hurting. It's not enough to just believe everything will work out somehow. We have to do something!

"If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, 
and one of you says to them, 
‘Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill’, 
and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, 
what is the good of that? 
So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead."
- James 2:15-17

Part of the reason God expects us to take responsibility for the needs of others is because we have already been the recipients of his loving kindness. God loved us and sent his Son for us when we were undeserving (Romans 5:8), and he provides for us daily (James 1:17). We ought to reflect that to others.

"Freely you have received, freely give."
- Matthew 10:8b (NIV)

Another reason to take responsibility, as Simba learned, is because of who we are. Every born again believer is a child of the King (Romans 8:15-17), but sometimes we forget. God, like the ghost of Mufasa, beckons us to remember our identity in Christ, that we might live up to our calling and be who he has made us.
"You have forgotten who you are, and so have forgotten me. Look inside yourself, Simba. You are more than what you have become." - Mufasa's ghost
I believe the time is long overdue for Christians to heed this wake up call! Too many of us have become complacent and apathetic. We have allowed Scar and the hyenas to drive this world to the edge of destruction, and it's high time we look at our reflection to see what of the King is still alive in us! It's time to remember who we are as sons and daughters of the one true King and step forward to fight for our rightful place!

Presenting the King's anointed offspring © 1994 DisneyIt won't be easy. Satan won't give up without a fight. But if we do nothing, nothing will get done. We have a responsibility to fight the good fight, but we can have joy because we have already seen how the story ends (Isaiah 65:17-25; Revelation 21-22). With the Lord's help, there's a bright day coming - a day of restoration and peace!

But this bright day will only be bright for those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life (Revelation 21:27). The only way to reach God's reward is by faith in Jesus Christ (John 14:6), and the alternative is Hell (Revelation 20:15). This brings us, then, to our greatest responsibility: to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with as many as will receive it. All of us ought to be bearing spiritual fruit: like Simba, once we are living up to our calling, we should have our own (spiritual) offspring to follow in the King's footsteps (John 15:1-5).

With our eternal destiny secured in Christ, we should have nothing to worry about -

"Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, 
so that he may exalt you in due time. 
Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you."
- 1 Peter 5:6-7

- but we must never forget the responsibilities of our calling: to hold firm to the truth, to help those who are hurting, and to share with others the Good News about Jesus.

"Hakuna Matata" sure is a catchy tune, but might I suggest a better anthem:

"We have heard the joyful sound - Jesus saves! Jesus saves!
Spread the gladness all around - Jesus saves! Jesus saves!
Bear the news to ev'ry land, climb the steeps and cross the waves.
Onward, 'tis our Lord's command - Jesus saves! Jesus saves!"
© 1882, by John J. Hood

"Jesus saves!" - What a wonderful phrase!

And it's no passing craze!

What does it mean to you?

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