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The Cartoon-Makers

Larry Kirkpatrick. Castle Valley Seventh-day Adventist Church

The Master Cartoon-Maker in His Studio

He sat there, perched in the tree. How long? We don't know. From time to time, above the chirping of the birds, and the gurgle of the stream, he would hear them. Wait, listen... yes! Somewhere in the distance, there was a rustling in the brush as they passed. He peered through the bright profusion of vividly colored flowers... there they were! Then, as rapidly as they had come, they were gone. He heard her joyful giggle and his pleasant laughter above the wind, but it soon passed from hearing. And there he remained perched in the tree; his eyes steady, peering; his ears intently listening, hoping above hope that they would return; that they would come close to where he was; to the tree...

...To the tree in the midst of the garden.

His name was not Walt Disney, or Hannah Barbera. But he was a cartoon maker. And that is all that he can make--just cartoons. But that's his business. He's a story-teller, and he has a story to tell about God. But he needs some help, and he thinks he can get it here, on planet earth, from us. And he is desperate, because he has no where else to turn. He is imprisoned here. You know by now that we are discussing the being we know as Satan, the Adversary. I would like you to join me today in looking at him in a new way: as an animator--as a cartoonist--if you will.

Turn with me to Revelation 12:9, 12:

And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him...Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.
He had walked up and down upon the stones of fire (Ezekiel 28:14); He had led the heavenly choirs in indescribable anthems that shook the very rafters of heaven; He had basked in the all-permeating light that shone from the presence of God. But now he was cast out. Now his twisted hopes of receiving the worship of the created beings of this universe were utterly dashed. Earth has become his prison-house. Not even a king here, he waits, knowing that his final doom is scheduled.

But he still has a plan--he is still telling his story--his version of the conflict between good and evil. He is a master story-teller; just consider his power over his angels. What tall tales did he have to tell to turn them from allegiance to God? What scenes did he have to portray to them? What merchandise did he make of truth, in order to buy their allegiance to his terrible cause? At what price did these higher-than-human beings sell-out, and fall to angelic cartoonhood?

And that is what they did--they sold out. Revelation 12:7-9 calls them "his angels." They received the deceptions of Satan as truth; they consented to become his cartoons. The Bible asks us that same question though. Do you know where it is? Look in Matthew 16:26:

"For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?"
How would we profit if we received everything that we wanted to have, but in the process we became cartoonified? What will we give in exchange for a permanent soaking in unreality, in the fleeting pleasures of sin for a season? Unlike the way things are in the television world, a lost person doesn't live on in perpetual reruns. We live one time, and after that, the judgment (Hebrews 9:27).

What Characterizes a Cartoon?

What characterizes a cartoon?
  • Animation
  • control
  • unreality
  • stereotyping and cardboard-cutout characters
  • Bright colors and tingly music
  • 30 minute solutions
  • selling breakfast serial
In cartooning, the dead are made to live. But they do not truly live; they are presented to us in an illusion. They look like they are moving, but it is just a series of still images flashed in front of us. Satan makes the dead look as if they are alive. But they are still dead.

In cartooning we see everything carefully scripted and controlled from an external source. Anyone ever watch the cartoon "Scooby Doo?" Now there's a cartoon that only has one script! But what an accurate parallel Scooby Doo is to what Satan's vision is for you and I. He too has only one script, and it always ends the same way: with our destruction. Satan gives his slaves the illusion of freedom. You serve him, and you'll think that you're really free. But you are really being blended into his animated feature film that fights against God, that documents his version of the story.

In cartooning unreality is the norm. In a life of sin, unreality is the norm too. Friends, what is more real, a life that goes on for billions of years, or one lasting but a few decades? The Bible tells us that our life, (the period of our earthly life, that is), is very short; it is but a vapor (James 4:14; Psalm 144:4). Unreality is transient, it is passing. God wants to give us eternal life. He wants to make us as real as possible. In the cartoon, we find stereotypes: all good guys and bad guys; nothing too hard to figure out. The complexities of life are swept under the rug with quick platitudes and slogans. That's all there's time for. There's nothing that can't be solved by fast cars, good shooting, a clever hero, or a plot juiced up with 32 ounces of luck. Do you know anyone who's caught up on that treadmill of "fun" that's so all-consuming that they live out their lives and never have time to look back? Never have time to blink, or to think about what they are really exchanging their soul for? In cartooning we are taught that everything has a 30 minute solution.

In cartooning we see bright colors and tingly music. Everything is designed to draw you in. Like the crow that finds shiny objects and then takes them to its nest just because they fascinate, or like the Possum that starts crossing the road at night and then stands transfixed to the oncoming headlights that signal impending destruction. Fascination through sensory input is how the cartoon-makers of this world are trying to sell you everything from cars to perfume to toothpaste. Look at casinos. Everything is flashing lights, bright colors, action and music. That is not a place to spend your money. Everything about it is structured to paralyze rational thought. Going into a casino to gamble is like walking into a building with a "kick-me" sign stuck to your behind. But Satan has done his best to make this world a panel by panel, cell by cell experience of flash and glitter.

Please don't get me wrong. I'm not hitting your world here. I'm hitting Satan's counterfeit world. Don't identify yourself with this present evil age. Its not my world and its not your world and its not God's world; it is Satan's cartoon world.

And here's another big mark of his world. In cartooning, what is going on? Well, they sell an awful lot of breakfast serial. And that's largely what cartoons are about: selling. They exist because the company that hires the cartoonist is motivated is to have a popular program that can earn more money selling its commercial slots. But isn't this just what Satan is doing? He is using his cartoon to sell his version of how the universe should be run. He uses his cartoon to make people suffer, and then blames it on God.

Becoming Unreal

And the deeper into the cartoon we slide, the more unreal we become. And the more plausible Satan's stories sound. Because cartoons have eyes but they can't see. They have ears, but they can't hear. Friends, they have minds to think, but they can't think. They are caught in the color and the glitter and the sound and the hype and the story and the lie.

It's not Walt Disney perched in the tree. It is Satan and his cartoon-makers. And he tells all who will listen, not Eve only, that they shall not surely die, that if they throw in with his cartoon-crew, they will become like God.

Operators are standing by right now, waiting to receive your call. You too can become a cartoon.

1 John 4:5 says "They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them." They are of the world. They speak like the world. The world hears them. Why? Because they are of the world: they have been cartoonified. Satan has successfully imprisoned them in the cells of his cartoon, of his fictionalized in-production account of why God is the bad guy and he, Satan, should get to run the universe. So what is evangelism? Is it the rescue of the cartoonified? Yes. But can one cartoon rescue another one? No. Therefore you and I must become real. And that's just what heaven has set out to do. To make us more real.

Becoming Real: a More Excellent Way

Yes, we share with the world a more excellent way. Because our Lord Jesus Christ doesn't do animations. He doesn't do cheap counterfeits. He doesn't raise the dead and leave them dead, He raises the dead and makes them live. He doesn't control, He restores to us control. He makes the unreal, real again. He doesn't make cardboard cut-outs; every Christian is unique. Each Christian has a special story of deliverance to tell. And God isn't using the gospel to sell a breakfast serial. He's not even using it to win the great controversy, although it is going to do that for Him. No, He's letting the gospel take its course.

The more excellent way is for you and I to let God make us more real, rather than less real. We are on a pathway that forks to two potential final outcomes.

On one pathway, we move from what we are to a final state of unreality. That is, we accept Satan's rendition of reality very thoroughly. We enter into it. We finally receive his mark. And why not? He has become the author of the life that is given to him; shouldn't it bear his signature anyway? After all, the cartoon-maker has his cartoons.

On the other pathway, we move from what we are to a final state of reality. That is, we accept God's version of reality very thoroughly. We enter into it; we become settled into it both intellectually and spiritually. And we finally receive His seal. We permit Him to write His law into our forehead, into our mind. We place all that we are behind His government and give evidence of our allegiance to Him through our lives. We bear, finally, His signature. Our life which is but a vapour joins with His life which is everlasting. We cross over into ultimate reality. No shadows. No games. No commitment remains to this present world which is passing away (1 Corinthians 7:31).

A Profile of Jesus, Our Reality-Maker

Satan is a murderer (John 8:44). He came to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:1, 10). But Jesus came that we might have life, and have it more abundantly (John 10:10). He came to give His life as a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28). Satan came to force us to be his subjects, his slaves (Romans 6:16-18), Jesus came to make us free indeed (John 8:32, 36), servants of righteousness.

Let's look more closely at Jesus, our reality-Maker.

He stepped down from infinity into the limitations of our broken humanity. But notice that although we are born broken, we are not born unreal. We are born in an intermediate state of reality. Our own decisions determine whether we become transient and unreal, or eternal and truly real. And Jesus entered our situation quite fully. Look with me at Philippians 2:5-11. Verse five says that He "made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men." The Greek there says that He "emptied Himself." As it has been said, He clothed His divinity with humanity; He condescended to enter upon life as we do. Isaiah 53:2 told us that He would grow up "as a root out of dry ground," and that to look at Him, "there is no beauty that we should desire Him." There was nothing in His appearance that would make us think that He was any different from any of us. Ellen White puts it strikingly in her book Desire of Ages, pg. 49:

It would have been an almost infinite humiliation for the Son of God to take man's nature, even when Adam stood in His innocence in Eden. But Jesus accepted humanity when the race had been weakened by four thousand years of sin. Like every child of Adam He accepted the results of the working of the great law of heredity. What these results were is shown in the history of his earthly ancestors. He came with such a heredity to share our sorrows and temptations, and to give us the example of a sinless life.
Was Jesus still God? Yes. But He consented to become as human as we are, so that we might become as obedient as He is. As sinless as He is.

As real as He is.

Do you know that the Spirit of Prophecy also says that if we let Him, Jesus will--in this present life--bring us back to the "condition of sinlessness in which Adam lived before his transgression" (SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 6, E. G. White comments, pg. 1118, from Manuscript 122, 1901)?

Listen to this description of what Jesus has undertaken for us, from Signs of the Times, December 22, 1887:

God said in the beginning, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness;" but sin has almost obliterated the moral image of God in man. This lamentable condition would have known no change or hope if Jesus had not come down to our world to be man's Saviour and Example. In the midst of a world's moral degradation he stands, a beautiful and spotless character, the one model for man's imitation. We must study, and copy, and follow the Lord Jesus Christ; then we shall bring the loveliness of his character into our own life, and weave his beauty into our daily words and actions. Thus we shall stand before God with acceptance, and win back by conflict with the principalities of darkness, the power of self-control, and the love of God that Adam lost in the fall. Through Christ we may possess the spirit of love and obedience to the commands of God. Through his merits it may be restored in our fallen natures; and when the Judgment shall sit and the books be opened, we may be the recipients of God's approval.

How to Become Real

And did you notice the formula given there for becoming real? "We must study, and copy, and follow the Lord Jesus Christ."

We can't study Jesus unless we study His life from the inspired sources. Let the Bible's gospels form the core of that study. And this studying is not just a one-time-through gathering of choice tidbits and facts. To study means also to weigh, to give thought to, to turn it over in one's mind and to try to see it from every angle that one can. And that's right there at the front--that's the first thing--to study the life of Jesus. Yet not only to study, but to copy.

How do we copy Jesus? We accept His values, His reality, His example of life. That means when Jesus says that we are to live according to Matthew 18, according to the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17; Matthew 22:36-40), according to His great commission (Matthew 28:18-20). Then that's what we're supposed to do. To copy Christ's life means not simply to think of His way of living, but to live His way of thinking.

Did you notice that idea right in the middle of Psalm 115:8? We read it in verse eight:

"They that make them are like unto them."
If you go along with the cartoon makers of this world, if you are willing to think their way, to fill your mind with their productions, then you will become as unreal as they are. You will become a co-cartoonist with them, a co-teacher of Satan's version of things; you will become a co-destroyer. And you will become as unreal as the tape-recorded and digitized productions that they are dishing out to the world.

But in contrast, if you behold Jesus Christ, you will become changed into His likeness. Because by beholding we become changed (2 Corinthians 3:18).

What did that passage given us through Ellen White say? "We must study, and copy, and follow the Lord Jesus Christ." Following means we don't come to a stopping place, but rather that we are always at a starting place, a beginning place, a starting line. The following of Jesus never ends, and so our experience should always be fresh.

Turn with me to 1 Corinthians 5:7. Do you recall this verse? Look at this "For we walk by faith and not by sight." We live according to the real world, and not according to the visible cartoon world. We learn to value the world as God would have it be, instead of valuing our options in life as this present evil age does (Galatians 1:3, 4).

There is no verse that says that being a Christian in a cartoon world is convenient. Instead, Jesus told the world that there is a narrow way and a broad way (Matthew 7:13, 14), and that if you want to talk about "few" people and "many" people, that "many" would go in at the broad road, and "few" would enter in at the narrow road. "Many" enter a cartoon Disneyland from which they never return. But some go in the real doorway, and discover the real kingdom. They live day by day by faith in their reality-Maker Jesus. They know why they're not cartoons. Because they are letting Jesus make them truly real.

An Appeal

O Where are you and I, friends? Have you been becoming more and more unreal with each passing day? Have you been slowly becoming a cartoon-cutout? Or have you been seeking your Maker day by day, and letting Him make you new?

And if you are letting Him make you new, then won't you join Him in His mission of re-humanizing those whom Satan has been de-humanizing, cartoonifying? Because that's what evangelism really is. That's our mission to every kindred and nation and tongue and people, just put in a different way. That's all.

In closing, I want to share Psalm 115 again. But now a very adapted version of it. Not exactly a translation and not exactly a paraphrase. But the ideas of the Psalm put in an updated way. Listen:

Not to us, O LORD, but to You we give glory, because of Your kindness and enduring faithfulness.
Why should those who exist as cartoons say, "Where is the Christian God now?"
Our God is Lord over all that is; He's the one who runs this place.
The cartoon worships images that mere men have made.
They appear to speak, they are nothing but digitized zeroes and ones;
they have eyes, but they see only the cartoon world;
they have ears, but they only pretend to hear:
Those who make them are like them; and it's the same way for every person who let's these entertaining glass-beads become the center of their life.
O Christians, let us trust in the LORD: He is our protector against a toxic world.
If we respect and revere Him then let us trust Him.
He has us ever on His mind and watches out for us in numerous ways large and small.
He will bless us; He will bless His people who respect and revere Him, no matter how unimportant or insignificant anyone thinks they are.
Our God makes what is real. He has an interest in young people too.
He has made everything that is substantial.
He put us here, in a real place to serve Him as real people.
Those who become unreal lose the capacity of serving Him.
They have nothing of substance to say.
But we are real.
We will not forget it.
We will remember our Maker throughout all of our days.
Praise the LORD.

Friends, we are real. By God's grace, we will not forget it!

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Last Modified 23 March 2000

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