Twenty-five years ago I sat in the movie theater amazed by an animated film with flying carpets, a blue genie and an exciting plot line. Disney’s Aladdin captured the attention of a generation with its encouragement to consider life differently through the song “A Whole New World.” So many teachable moments exist in Aladdin but two brief scenes combine to create a prophetic question haunting school halls, church children’s wings, public play grounds, shopping malls, and all electronic media devices. Twice in the movie young Aladdin reaches his hand down to Princess Jasmine and echoes this prophetic question, “Do you trust me?”
We live in a culture devoid of trust. Think about what we have seen unfold before our eyes. Things began to unravel for me when Jerry Sandusky, previous defensive coordinator for Penn State’s football team during the Joe Paterno (winningest coach at Division 1A of all time) era, was found guilty of molesting children in 2012 through the non-profit organization he started. The unraveling continued when Bill Cosby, 1980’s TV icon and comedian, was tried for his own list of inappropriate actions with women. Other situations came into public view, but nothing has compared to the last few months. Hollywood power brokers have been exposed, news anchors have fallen, and athletes are facing suspensions and litigation. While this has taken place, the second largest US terrorist event took place in Nevada when five hundred people were injured and fifty-nine killed by a shooting spree at an October Las Vegas concert. One month later twenty-six people were killed by a shooter at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas. Walk into almost any public school today and you are likely to find metal detectors, full time police officers and drug dogs. Enter most modern churches and find security systems with pictures on name badges for staff and printable name tags to make sure children are being picked up by the proper adult.
The answer to Aladdin’s prophetic question from a quarter century ago? ARE YOU KIDDING!! NO!!!!! We now live in a society without trust. This is how bad it has gotten. Each year our family at Thanksgiving enjoys watching the Macy’s parade. The very last parade moment is when Santa comes on a sleigh waving to the thousands of people lining the parade route and the millions watching on TV. This year, “perfectly” framed behind Santa as he appeared on the screen was the Victoria’s Secret billboard. I CANNOT EVEN TRUST THE HOLIDAY PARADE!! My spiritual life did not need to see this billboard and my boys certainly did not need it either. Do you Trust me? asks the media. No way! Do you trust me? asks the politicians that publicly call each other names. Do you trust me as a mentor and a hero? say the athletes. Do you trust me? says the North Carolina school teacher who graduated from a Christian University and then is fired two months after being hired because of a sex romp with a seventeen year old boy. Do you trust me? says the church that invests so much time building its bunkers to prove and protect its theology that little teaches their people that the true church is bigger than just them! Should it bring us great surprise when many children, teens and adults say “NO” when someone talks to them about God and says, “Do you trust Him?”
What does Trust even mean to the average person in 2017? How do we live in a culture devoid of trust? How can we share about Christ with people and invite them to trust Him when trust is not available for view in the public eye? Tune in for my next several posts and I’ll let you know how, but one question first . . . Do you trust me?