What’s the difference between Walt Disney and Bing Crosby? Bing sings and Walt ‘disney’. (Best said with a Scottish accent.) Not hilarious but never a bad thing to kick off with a joke. The Disney Movie Machine makes incredibly good movies, more now than ever before, and not least in the animation department. The likes of The Lion King, Finding Nemo and Toy Story have gone down in history as much-loved, evergreen classics.
I’m not a big fan of cartoons myself, I like seeing real actors on the screen, just my preference I guess. I do have some favourites but they just happen to be animations made by other companies – Shrek, Flushed Away and Captain Underpants would feature in my top 3. I love the way Shrek subverted and upended my expectations when it first burst onto our screens.
Some animations, and live action films too, come with an interesting message – ‘just believe in yourself and you can do it’.
Now, while that is not a bad thing to believe in – the Biblical writers go further. They encourage us to believe in a God who believes in you. And there is a difference. For one thing, choosing to believe in that God means taking on board his love for justice, kindness and humility. And, to be honest, to say to folks that merely believing in yourself means you can achieve anything is not quite true. So much depends on personality, life experience, foibles, strengths and weaknesses. And the God of the Bible takes all these things into account, draws on them and leads us with them. When Joshua needed encouragement, when Mary met a Christmas angel, and when Jesus knelt to wash his disciples’ feet (doing the job of the lowest slave) … they were all assured that God was with them. That was the key, that was the encouragement to keep going. When Jeremiah said he was too young and when Moses said he was too reluctant the reply was not, ‘Just believe in yourself – you’ll be fine.’ They needed more. The encouragement was this: ‘I am with you.’ And it’s the same message for us today. When we are up against it, when life throws a shedload of stinking grime at us, when we just cannot make things work out as we planned – the message comes again – ‘I am with you.’ Have a look at the promises in Isaiah chapter 43 verses 1-4. Plus, in John chapter 16 and verse 33, Jesus says – ‘In this world you’ll have bother, but take heart, I am bigger than the world.’ The God who believes in us is with us.
So, next time you hear the line, ‘Just believe in yourself…’ remember there is another thought…’Believe in the God who believes in you.’