Summary: Neverland and Peter Pan have entertained children and adults for generations, but there are misconceptions among Church people that are nothing less than fantasy with no foundation in reality.
June 19, 2005
Magnolia Springs A/G
There is a movie that was released recently entitled “Finding Neverland. The movie was nominated for several academy awards and explains how the author of Peter Pan, James Barrie, was inspired to write the very successful story which later Walt Disney made famous.
Surprisingly, the story Peter Pan was patterned after the lives of a widow and her four boys with whom the author became associated. One of the younger boys was particularly devastated by the loss of his Dad. James Barrie focused primarily on that child, trying to bring him out of his dark world.
As you probably know the story is intended to inspire the imagination of children. It is a fantasy enjoyed by millions for generations. Neverland is an imaginary place limited in exotic detail only by one’s imagination.
The concept of Neverland also became the inspiration for “Neverland Ranch” in California. It was built to be a place where children who are cancer patients could go to live out their fantasies as a kind of therapy for what might otherwise be a hopeless situation. Ironically the accusations of child molestation there in fantasy land relate in a sad way with the message I want to share with you today.
While fantasy may be appropriate for children and even older people to enjoy as entertainment or a mechanism to train young minds to be creative, many people view the Kingdom of God as if it were Neverland. By it’s very descriptive nature the term Neverland indicates something one will never find in real life. Neverland Ranch, for example, has turned out to have a dark side to it.
There are concepts people have concerning the Kingdom of God that are much like Neverland. While they may sound wonderful in concept, the reality is that they are but a Peter Pan fantasy. Here’s an example of what I’m talking about:
NEVERLAND: God is love and therefore He will see to it that everyone goes to Heaven or according to a philosophy referred to as Universalism more recently Inclusion, everybody’s saved, they just may not realize it yet.
22 Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off. 23 And they (Israel) also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.
Romans 11:22-23 (NKJV)
Paul was referring to Israel in this context, but it obviously relates to any of us who fall from grace. FALLING is not the bottom line, UNBELIEF is. Falling is merely the end result of unbelief. Don’t worry about falling, but guard yourself against unbelief. In II Peter Chapter 1 Peter tells us what we must add to our faith. He says if faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, and love abound in us we won’t be unfruitful. If we DO them or put them in practice we will NEVER FALL.
3 But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4 whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.
2 Cor 4:3-4 (NKJV)
I understand that a well respected Charismatic Pastor has undergone some harsh criticism as a result of an interview he did on Larry King where he tended to skirt critical issues concerning Christ as the ONLY way to Heaven. When asked if Muslims could go to Heaven, he responded by saying it was not his place to judge. Of course, considering what he would have faced had he boldly told the truth, such as threats against his life, you might see his reluctance to step out on that subject.
In our desire to be seeker sensitive we must always be aware of the danger of compromise.
10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.
Luke 19:10 (KJV)
Jesus called us to SEEK the lost, not pander to their sensitivities out of concern for offending them. Who would you say really loves someone? Would it be the one who dares not warn them of impending disaster for fear of offending them, or someone who tells them the truth in love in order to save them?
NEVERLAND: The good ole U.S. of A. is a democracy, therefore the Church is the same way. We all have personal preferences about virtually everything. We have our opinions about how the Church ought to be run, the type songs that should be sung, how the preacher ought to preach, etc. If we attend Church and pay our tithes we ought to have things the way we like them.