In the Boland home, the Toy Story trilogy cycles through our DVD player on a regular basis. It never ceases to amaze me how many opportunities we find to point out some aspect of the power of the Gospel when the toys come to life. One of my favorite illustrations is what I call “Space Ranger” saints.
If you’ve never seen Toy Story, the toys belong to a boy named Andy. His favorite toy is a cowboy doll, named Woody. All is well in Andy’s bedroom until he receives a new toy on his birthday, a “Buzz Lightyear” Space Ranger toy, complete with expandable wings, audible commands, and a laser beam. The problem with Buzz is he believes he is the real “Buzz Lightyear”—a Space Ranger sworn to protect the galaxy from the evil emperor Zurg, sworn enemy of the galactic alliance.
Woody, burning with jealously at all the attention lavished on Buzz by Andy and the other toys, takes it upon himself to convince Buzz (and anyone else who will listen) that Buzz is only a toy, who cannot fly and does not possess any super powers. He is, Woody shrieks indignantly, nothing more than “a child’s plaything!”
Buzz ignores these suggestions until he sees a television ad for the Buzz Lightyear action figures. In that instant, Buzz is completely crushed under the weight of realization. He can’t fly. His laser beam is nothing more than a little light bulb that blinks. He is not protecting anyone from the evil emperor Zurg. He is in fact, only a toy made in Taiwan.
So . . . what does this have to do with you and me? Are we anything like Buzz Lightyear? You betcha! We are just like Buzz when we believe we are something we are not, and determine to keep up the façade by posing, pretending, and performing. And when we are finally exposed for what we truly are—gross sinners in need of a great Savior—we are driven into the ashes of defeat. The Bible warns us against falling into the realm of being a “Space Ranger” saint.
Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. (Philippians 2:3)
Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. (Romans 12:10)
Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
Only the power of the Gospel frees us from thinking too highly of ourselves. Only the power of the Gospel frees us from continually comparing ourselves with others. Only the power of the Gospel keeps us from running on the performance treadmill of life. Only the power of the Gospel frees us to acknowledge our weakness . . . and our only source of strength: the power of the Gospel! And only the power of the Gospel keeps us keeping on when we realize we are not all that we thought we were!
For Buzz, after he discovered that he was not all that he had thought he was, his understanding of the deep, abiding love Andy had for him that validated who he was—not his expandable wings . . . not his audible commands . . . not his laser beam . . . not his karate chop arm. He may have only been a toy, but he was Andy’s toy, and in the end that was enough for Buzz to be.
For us, it is our understanding of the deep, abiding love Jesus has for us that validates who we are. Not our jobs . . . not our incomes . . . not our address . . . not our social circle. Regardless of what we have or don’t have, when we have Jesus we have everything.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!