Beauty Beyond Disney…

Ben Schoettel   -  


Nobody: “Rich, don’t poke the bear.”

Rich: “Ok, I’m poking the bear.”

“I’ve really never enjoyed Disney movies.” Hear me out—these aren’t fighting words. It’s not that it’s bad stuff. It’s just not my jam. That said, there is a recent emergence of some terminology that’s caused me to look at Disney a little closer and it has to do with something called, “Disney Princes Theology.” More on that in a second…

In our series from Revelation, we come to an incredible picture. Revelation 7:9, “After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and people and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands.”

Revelation continues to show itself to be this grand invitation from God to the church to participate in the in-breaking hope of the new creation He is bringing forth. This glimpse into heaven John shares in the passage is some of what it looks like.

First, there’s more people around the throne than can be counted. Not just that, every walk of life is represented. Every nation, language, race, gender, age, socio-economic status, etc. It’s a community of diversity.

Second, everyone wears white. There is no distinguishing feature for these people. They all hold the same status which is redeemed. No extra crowns or jewels for the more saintly and no lesser clothes to mark those who did less in life. It’s a community of equality.

Third, they hold palm branches, a clear reference to Jesus entering Jerusalem. The focus is pointed. This diverse, equal group is single minded. They worship as a community of praise.

So, here’s the catch. You might see what was just described as a picture of the future. What heaven WILL look like. But the first Christians wouldn’t have read it that way and neither should we. The words are less about the future and more about what the church should look like today.

A church of diversity. One where the uniqueness of all walks of life are present and invited to the table.

A church of equality. Connected. Regardless of our past, physical, material, or intellectual merit.

A church of singular praise. A church that dethrones itself and enthrones the One who makes all things new.

Enter “Disney Princess Theology.”

When you sit down and watch a Disney movie, they are mostly crafted so that as you watch, you see yourself in the leading role. The unsung hero, the one who defeats the odds, the one counted out who in the end rises victorious. The temptation, particularly among American evangelicals, is we have been trained to look at the characters in Scripture and see ourselves as the hero or the faithful one.

In the story of Joseph in the Old Testament, we don’t see ourselves as one of the brothers or as Pharaoh. No, we identify ourselves with Joseph. And, how many of us, when we look at the lives of the twelve male disciples of Jesus, see ourselves in Judas more than we do in Peter? Or the widow who gave at the temple and not the rich young ruler? Are we not always the Jews escaping slavery and never Egypt?

What does this have to do with Revelation? Look closer. Much of it contains instructions not only for how the church is to live under a powerful empire of this world, but to also resist conforming to it. Instead, we are called to embrace a different Kingdom and work with God in seeing it come to pass.

Disney Princess Theology means you see yourself as the persecuted…never identifying ourselves with Rome. No one really sees themselves as the wicked step-mother. Cinderella—the struggling child of virtue feels more palatable. Besides, it all ends with her being rescued by the “prince” and delivered away from all the evil into paradise. Sound familiar?

Is it possible that one of the reasons the church today lacks the diversity, equality and true praise evidenced in that heavenly vision is not because of outward forces pushing in on a persecuted church that needs rescued, but because we fail to see how our own lives have added to the lack of diversity, equality, and true—selfless praise? Pastor Ben mentioned in his sermon the idea of repentance. Generally, princesses don’t need to repent, they need rescued. But what if we took off the Disney lenses and instead put the lenses of Revelation on?

Tough stuff, I know. I poked the bear. But I think John did it first.

Let’s keep those Revelation lenses on a bit longer as we continue to discern the church God desires for us to be.

-Pastor Rich