As I read Disney’s version of Pinocchio to my daughter for the fiftieth time, I began to see the classic story in a whole new light. I’m not sure what the author had in mind when he wrote Pinocchio’s adventure, but I see it as the tale of every man and his struggle with good and evil and the drama of the Law and Grace.
The story begins in the shop of a woodcarver named Geppetto. Man’s story began when God created in the Garden of Eden. And my story? It began when I was born into this world. And so did yours. Each man born since the Fall has possessed a great void, one that theologians call depravity and what we may call a “God-shaped” hole that nothing but He can fill. In that respect, we are little more than lifeless puppets at our creation, physical beings created in the image of God but with no spiritual life.
As Geppetto looked out his window on the night of Pinocchio’s creation and wished that he would become a real boy, God the Father looks at His creation and puts into motion a plan to woo man to Himself that he may receive life. When we are born, any spiritual activity is basically inert until we reach an age of accountability. We live physically, but we sit on the shelf, so to speak, as Pinocchio did. But, there comes a day when the Holy Spirit speaks to the heart with conviction and Truth.
In Pinocchio’s story, the Blue Fairy came and awakened Pinocchio, not to real life, but to the realization that he was not complete. This is continually brought to our mind by the receipt of our conscience, which to Pinocchio came in the form of Jiminy Cricket. Geppetto’s joy over Pinocchio’s coming to this partial life is not unlike God’s. He joys in the wooing of man just as he joys in our receiving spiritual life. Though He has omnipotence and can keep us in His “shop” where we will follow His every wish by force, He knows love is a choice. And, the choice to love God can only be made when we are set free to will what we choose and given the opportunity to reject Him.
Geppetto sent Pinocchio away, but he sent him to school. So God sends us to the schoolmaster of the Law, for He knows that unless we know the Law, we will never know our sin. And until we come face to face with our sin, we will never choose Him. From this point on, Pinocchio’s life represents a struggle. His conscience, the “inner law”, struggles with the outward influences of evil in his world. The fox and the cat represent Satan’s agents to draw us further and further from the Law and consequently, the Father. The first temptation they used to trap Pinocchio is fame—nothing more than an appeal to carnal pride. Pinocchio forsakes all thoughts of school to become a puppet for
Come back tomorrow for Part Two...