I stopped for a quick lunch break today around 4… yah I was a little late on that… and headed to the McDonalds up the street and around the corner. It seemed like the best option since I could eat high quality food and play Monopoly at the same time. I sat there devouring my fries, chatting with my wife on the phone and looking out the window into the play area. On the other side of the pane was a bench and sitting on it was a statue of the ever famous clown, Ronald McDonald. His leg was crossed, and one arm was stretched out on the back of the bench. It was an inviting pose. It said, ‘Come have a seat with me’ merely by posture. And then a small girl did just that. I would guess her to have been four years old at the most. It’s hard to judge sometimes, but she was bright eyed and smiley faced as she climbed up into plastic McDonald’s lap and gave him a hug. Then she looked up into his face and patted on his cold empty chest with much affection.
Then it hit me. This is exactly what we do with God. The little girl didn’t climb into the lap of the real Ronald McDonald. No, this was a poor lifeless imitation. It was incapable of returning affection because although it was really there, it was also completely lifeless. God is very much real, and very much alive, but we too often climb into the lap of dead lifeless religion looking for affection from a real living God. We sit there and talk to plastic religion god and wonder why he seems so distant…maybe we aren’t talking loud enough, or maybe he isn’t listening…or maybe he’s not capable of affection because he’s just a plastic system of theology and not the real thing.
Wouldn’t it have been awesome if at that very moment the real Ronald McDonald had come walking in? Not just an actor, but the REAL thing! I’m betting the plastic statue wouldn’t be so attractive to the little girl anymore. I’m betting she would squeal and run wildly to embrace the crazy clown! After looking into the face of the real thing, I’m betting the plastic substitute wouldn’t satisfy anymore. Come to think of it, it would probably be a let down. It would only serve to remind the little girl that at one time she actually met the real Ronald McDonald, but he isn’t here now.
This little girl, and that plastic statue helped me to understand a little more of what God has been doing in me. Plastic doesn’t satisfy anymore… not after seeing a little of the real thing.
Scott Livengood is a dear friend and brother in Christ who participates in discussions with us at Facebook.