There is a scene in one of my favorite Disney films, A Goofy Movie, in which teenager Max is taken much to his chagrin by his father, Goofy, to a rundown roadside attraction park known as “Lester’s ‘Possom Park.” After enduring a very cringe-worthy animatronic performance in which the audience is encouraged to yodel along with Lester, Max is left alone while his father explores the souvenir station.
In an unguarded moment, Max is greeted by Lester, the tall costumed opossum (think Chuck E. Cheese meets Barney the Dinosaur), who enthusiastically asks Max:
“Who’s your favorite ‘possum?”
Max plainly tells him:
“Don’t . . . touch me.”
This of course inspires Lester to give Max a huge hug in hopes of cheering him up. The scene climaxes with Max slapping the opossum caricature hard enough to make his costume head spin 180 degrees to the rear.
“Beat it, doofus!”
Unable to see, the child entertainer staggers off into the background where he is taken down and dragged away by a gang of enthralled children.
It’s my favorite scene, and one I think of often in the church because I assume many men think of the pastor, and maybe even Christ himself as a Lester-like figure who is desperate for our attention and eager to give us a big, unwanted hug. Anything to get us to smile and play along.
I am grateful my pastors are not Lesters, but it saddens me to think of the men who mistake Christ, as I once did, for something like Lester the ‘Possum instead of rightly understanding him for the final authority that He is.
Christ is most certainly compassionate and hospitable, and I have no doubt that he gives the best hugs. But he is not merely an entertainer in search of our shallow affection. He is the eternal authority, and his return will not include playful yodeling.