Walt Disney is famous for a lot of things. Most notably, a mouse, a world-renowned media company and magical parks, cruises and experiences that attract people from around the world. My family and I just got back from Walt Disney World and got a taste of the "magic" of Disney--it's a place memories are made. As we walked around the Disney parks, there are Walt Disney quotes called "Dream Builders" posted on pretty signs around some of the walkways. Some of them were inspirational, encouraging children to never give up on their dreams. Some of them captured Walt Disney's values as he led and managed a global enterprise. One quote stood out to me. It went like this:
“You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality.”
At the core of the Disney experience is creative imagination. He wanted to create a place where dreams came true. Naturally, he attracted people with the best imaginative skills to dream. But at the end of the day, without people working and serving with boots on the ground, those dreams and ideas mean nothing.
That makes me think about the Church. No, the church is not supposed to be some magical attraction like a theme park. It's even better; it's a taste of heaven on earth. Jesus taught his disciples to pray like this in Matthew 6:9-10: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven…"
God is designing, creating and building a kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. We are taught to pray for this, assuming God is active in doing the work. But the question remains, how does God choose to do the work of building his kingdom? He uses people to make his kingdom a reality. We might imagine God having the ability to wave a proverbial magic wand and boom! the kingdom is here. But what did God do? He used people. It started with his Son who became a man. Jesus was the living, tangible way the kingdom of God came to earth! But it didn't stop with him. It continued with the Spirit filling all his followers to show his love and goodness. This should highlight for us just how much God loves people. When he made us in his image, he was delighted. He quickly gave us important work to do in his creation--not as a burden, but as a joyful partnership. We are not forgotten by him, ignored by him, or useless to him. He loves us so much we says to us, "Come work with me. Let's build something beautiful together." Today we are the Spirit-filled people God is using to show the world what his kingdom looks like on earth. To do this, we're invited to trust him, learn from him, and imitate him out of his redeeming work within us. So wherever the people of God are, the world should be able to taste and see a bit of God's kingdom. They should see it in the fruit of the Spirit produced in us. They should see it in the way we serve others in joy and gratitude. They should see it by our love.
I consider myself blessed to be a part of this church where we are surrounded by lots of people loved by God who serve him in beautiful ways. I'm thankful for people who serve in ministries, who lead, who quietly work behind the scenes, who mentor others, who pray, who give joyfully and abundantly, who encourage, who show the warmth of Jesus. It's people who make up the church. We may all be different and have different strengths, but God delights to use each of us, his image-bearers, to work with him for his kingdom. Thank God he loves his people.