Everyone has a soft spot for Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. I remember watching it as a child and thought it was cutting edge at the time because of it’s imaginative factory and the utter genius of Willy Wonka, played by Gene Wilder.
The film is about a young poor kid named Charlie who discovers that Willy Wonka, a withdrawn candy innovator, has created a high-stakes worldwide competition by placing five golden tickets in candy bars which would allow the winners into his secretive candy factory. Charlie soon discovers he is the last winner. Once in the corky and adventurous factory, ultimately each participant is eliminated by their own doing leaving Charlie as the recipient of the grand reward, inheriting Wonka’s factory.
After buying the film recently, I couldn’t help but notice the film as a parallel for the Christian life. Specifically, the five young characters that yearn for the ultimate prize demonstrate the race for eternal life.
Each recipient of the golden ticket has a particular deadly sin:
Veruca Salt-lust/wrath (anger)
As they enter the factory, this place filters them out. Each one of them finds an aspect that appeals to their desires. Augustus, in his intense desire for excess pleasure, sipped from the chocolate river when it was clearly prohibited. Violet, in her need to have first place in all things, committed a mistake by taking Wonka’s untested three-course dinner candy. Veruca, in her demanding boastful nature, insisted on wanting everything in the factory that would make her praised and admired. Mike’s obsession with his beloved television stars caused him to abuse Wonka’s invention so he could be famous. By their deliberate full knowledge against Willy Wonka’s commands, each of them is disqualified from the competition. Yet, Charlie is the last one standing.
Besides him engaging in one act of disobedience in the factory, stealing the fizzy lifting drinks with his Grandpa Joe, Charlie was the obedient one of the five. And he has good reason to be. His home life was consumed with a lack of hope. Specifically, he wrestled with poverty, lived in a two-generation household with both sets of elderly grandparents, and a mother who had a very low paying job. When he first heard about the competition, Charlie was extremely overjoyed by the opportunity that presented itself. He failed miserably twice without finding a candy bar with the golden ticket. Through both attempts, Charlie wrestled with clinging on to the hope of winning and facing the very slim probability of actually finding success. All he wanted was a glimpse of hope and the ticket was his surest pathway. Thankfully, on the third try, he obtained his rightful reward, the coveted golden ticket.
When Charlie was the last one standing, Willy Wonka angrily declared that he was disqualified for breaking the rules. Before he and his grandpa exit, Charlie gave back to Wonka the coveted secret invention that a rival innovator wanted to steal from Willy Wonka through the five participants. By doing this, Charlie demonstrated that his intentions were pure and if he truly was an evil kid, he would’ve forsaken Willy Wonka’s secret candy. Moreover, he repaid evil with love. He could’ve easily gotten equally furious at Willy Wonka, but instead, Charlie took the high road that showed he was on Wonka’s side all along.
I like how Charlie overcame Willy Wonka’s rage and disapproval with a simple act of kindness. Wonka really gave them a verbal lashing, but instead, Charlie took the higher route. This reminds me of Jesus when he said, “But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you (Matt. 5:44).”
At that moment of returning the candy, Willy Wonka came to his senses and realized that Charlie won the test. He then awarded him his entire estate as a reward for his extraordinary obedience.
Here’s the point: We Christians are given the “golden ticket” of faith, but only if we endure in obedience in Jesus Christ can we, like Charlie, obtain our inheritance. The other participants all had the gift, but through their own sins, they fell away from the promise. This reminds me of the parable of the soils, which ultimately leads to the question: What are we doing with our faith to produce an abundant crop? Remember “If you hear his voice, harden not your heart.”
Let know one dare say that those disqualified from the competition were “once saved always saved.” In his indignation, Wilky Wonka clearly showed that they didn’t inherit the promise of a blissful reward because of their actions were against his word. Even Charlie slipped up, but he was redeemed by his amazing obedience. So yes, it is possible to stumble into periods of disobedience, but to remain in a state of sin is to go contrary to the obedience of God. This clearly points to Jesus when he said, “But the one who perseveres to the end will be saved. (Matt 25:13).”
Entering into the kingdom of God requires more than hope. Certainly, anyone can hope for something. Instead, it requires action. God gave us the blueprint, we just have to get on board with it.
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