By Cass DuCharme   

On New Years Eve, our church youth group, along with youth from FBC Macon and FBC Columbus, joined together for an end-of-the-year New Year's retreat. As you can guess from the title of this article, our retreat took place at Disney World-the Magic Kingdom. Our theme for the retreat, which was led by Jody Long, was "The Kingdom." Pretty original, don't you think? During the retreat we compared the Magic Kingdom with the Kingdom of God. As I thought about the two comparisons, here's what I found.


There is a cost for both kingdoms. Disney World is pricey and not everyone can afford to go there. There is also an end to your stay in the "magic" kingdom and sooner or later you have to leave. The Kingdom of God cost Jesus his life and it requires of us a new way of life. It requires that we live as kingdom people-serving, loving, giving, sharing and caring for others as Jesus did.


At Disney World, Mickey is king and he rules over his kingdom with a happy rodent smile. In fact, I found out this week that the top three reproduced images in the world are Mickey Mouse, Elvis Presley (the king of rock and roll, who would have been 78 years old this week), and Jesus. The thing that surprised me the most about this fact was that of the three, Elvis is the third most popular, Jesus is the second, and Mickey is #1. Now don't get me wrong, I love Mickey Mouse, but I don't think he should be more popular than Jesus, the king of kings.


Another fact I found out while visiting Disney is that New Year's Eve is one of the busiest days to visit. I can believe it too. Growing up in Florida, I went to Disney World a lot. I have never been there with that many people. In fact, I heard that they had to close the gate at noon because it was so crowded. In the Kingdom of God, I hear there's room for everybody and the gate never closes.


One thing I saw in the Magic Kingdom that I do think we'll see in God's kingdom is people from every country in the world gathering together in peace and harmony with one another. Jesus said, "The kingdom of God is among you" or within you. It is here, right now, within those who follow Jesus.


I know that it's kind of silly comparing the Magic Kingdom with the Kingdom of God, but wouldn't it be nice if we could truly learn to experience God's kingdom here on earth with true peace and love for everyone? The youth and I had a great time at Disney World and I think they may have learned a few faith lessons too. Now, let's see what we can do about making Jesus number one in our lives and in reproducible images.