Viewer Discretion Advised
This is from an article by Matt Woodley, managing editor of PreachingToday.com:
It was supposed to be the "perfect" town. After all, it was planned by Disney itself. The town of Celebration, Florida, a 16-acre utopian community just ten minutes from Walt Disney World, was developed in order to promote "Disney values." Disney designed the buildings, as well as its education and health policies. Most homes look identical, even with the same plants in the front garden. During winter evenings, the town even gets a gentle dusting of artificial snow every hour on the hour. (If you're familiar with the movie The Truman Show, you probably get the idea).
But this carefully planned, picture-perfect world was shattered in 2010 by two violent deaths: a murder and a suicide. Matteo Giovanditto, aged 58, was the victim of the town's first murder. Just three days later, Craig Foushee, distraught over his impending divorce and bankruptcy, barricaded himself in his home and started firing shots. After a tense standoff with authorities, Mr. Foushee eventually shot and killed himself.
According to a British news article on these tragic deaths, "The incidents have added to signs that cracks are forming in the sugary veneer of the town, where visitors can take horse-and-carriage rides through the picket-fence-lined streets."
This story should sadden but not surprise Christians. On the one hand, these deaths represent the tragic loss of two people made in the image of God and deeply loved by the Son of God. On the other hand, it's a sober reminder of our fallen human nature. No matter how hard we try to sanitize our lives and our communities, we still have sinful hearts and we live in a flawed world. We still yearn for heaven and Christ's coming peace. Perfect towns and white-picket-fences can't hide the human heart—both its bent towards sin and its longing for God's grace.
There’s no sanitizing the story we’ll hear this Sunday. It is a story of violence and evil, of wrath and punishment. Oh, who am I kidding? It’s sanitized all the time. This story is a favorite topic for children’s Bible classes. It’s a favorite subject for the murals we paint in our nurseries. I understand why this is, and I’m not saying we should change it, but you have to admit the uncensored version isn’t exactly G-Rated.
But here’s the good news. As devastating a story as it is, it is also a story of God’s grace and patience and willingness to give second chances. The bad news is not the only news there is to be heard.