The Theology of the Muppets

I recently finished reading Jim Henson: The Biography and was struck by how perfectly the Muppets illustrate what Jesus teaches in John 15:

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me (John 15:4).

To abide means “to remain; to continue; to stay.” In other words, to be absolutely dependent on Christ at all times. This is, in essence, the goal of the Christian life.

Abide in Me…

Muppets Right HandOne of my favorite parts of Jim’s biography was being allowed behind the curtain to see how he brought the Muppets to life. Many of the Muppets required two performers to operate them—one to work the mouth and left hand, and a second to work the right hand (a literal “right hand man”).

In order for the Muppet to be believable as living creatures, both of the performers had to work in perfect unity. If the right hand man was even a half step behind the primary performer, the delay would be distracting and the illusion was lost. This was quite a problem until Jim came up with the perfect solution.

He would have his right hand man reach around and hold his belt loop with their free hand, connecting the two performers together and allowing them to move as one. Instead of trying to anticipate Jim’s next move, the right hand man could follow his lead subconsciously.

Likewise, instead of fretting about what Jesus wants you to do or what your next move should be, you simply need to abide in Him. Your job is to remain so closely connected to Christ that you naturally end up wherever He wants to take you.

…and I in you.

In addition to you abiding in Christ, Christ abides in you. The moment you put your trust in Jesus, you become fused with Him. His Spirit moves into your heart, filling you with His life.

Jim and KermitWhen you watch The Muppet Show, it’s obvious the human guests believe they are interacting with a living character. The conversations, especially with kids, are priceless. Even as a viewer, you often forget you are watching a piece of fabric being manipulated by a performer’s hand. The illusion of life is nothing short of magical.

But without Jim’s hand “abiding” in Kermit the Frog, the puppet has no life. It’s just a bag of green felt with some ping-pong balls glued to it. In fact, many guests would comment on how creepy it was to see muppets piled lifelessly on the floor during breaks, comparing them to corpses.

In the same way, it’s Christ within you that makes you to come alive and gives you the ability to live the Christian life. Apart from Him, you can do nothing.

You are more than a Puppet

God didn’t create you just to be a puppet for Him to control. He will always give you the freedom to make your own decisions. For example, you have the option between trying to control your own life or trusting Jesus to live His life through you. Only one of those paths will lead you to eternal life though.

If you’re trying to control life on your own, I’d encourage you to consider how well it’s working for you. If you’re being honest, it’s probably about as productive as Kermit trying to perform without Jim Henson bringing him to life.

Friends, please don’t settle for anything less than real life.

Trust Jesus to make you come alive.

Abide in Him.

Together, the two of you will create something truly magical.

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