Updated: May 30, 2021
1 John 4:18, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.”
Disney Channel’s Wander Over Yonder was a show that starred a furry muppet of an alien named Wander. He’s cheery, curious, more spastic than a toddler on a Pepsi keg, but loves nothing more than helping others across the galaxies. Now, most cartoons like this follow a ‘Spongebob’ pattern. The emphasis is on slapstick comedy. There’s little need for backstories, and for the most part, the show sticks to that policy. However, there were a few key moments that exposed hidden depths under that goofball’s plucky demeanor. For as charming and trusting Wander is, no one in any galaxy actually knows where he’s from. Not even his best friend, Sylvia, knows his real name. He just seemed to always be there. Wander’s space adventures may be short, silly romps, but that doesn’t mean nothing meaningful can be drawn from them. For when it comes to loving others, Wander is absolutely fearless.
For one thing, Wander doesn’t discriminate who he shares his heart with. Doesn’t matter how odd, shy, or evil the individual. He sees everyone - literally - everyone as another friend to be made. He even extends his friendship to villains like Lord Hater (much to the guy’s hilarious chagrin). That’s pretty risky and scary if you think about it. Forming relationships with people you like alone is frightening enough as it is. Then, on a second note, it appears that Wander’s lifespan is incredibly long. According to episodes like ‘The Waste of Time’ and ‘The Bad Hatter’, it’s apparent that Wander hadn’t aged even after a thousand years. A show creator even confirmed that Wander would long outlive Sylvia. Imagine if that were you. Opening yourself up to your enemies . . . outliving those who love you . . . you might not want to connect with anyone at all. Why set yourself up for inevitable heartbreak? Well, if you’re a born again Christian, not only can you relate to Wander. He’s bearing a particular example all of us can follow.
As a Christian, you’ve been given eternal life through the blood of Christ. That literally means any unsaved friend or family member you have you’re intrinsically going to outlive. Of course, for most of us, that’s our best incentive to try to connect with others. We do it in hopes they’ll accept eternal life and be with us too. Yet can’t we admit that sometimes we fear no one will listen? Then consider those who dislike us. Don’t we sometimes hesitate to reach them for fear of being mocked or harmed? It’s easy to say ‘go out into the world’, but it’s much harder to do. So besides obedience to our Lord, where’s our incentive to love and help others the way Wander does?
Let me turn your attention to the episode, ‘The Wanders’. It’s plot carries an old yet fun trope. Wander gets his personality split into individual ‘Wanders’. The ‘Wanders’ then run amuck, and Sylvia has to piece him back together. Of course, silly shenanigans ensue, but then comes the episode’s ending with its sobering reveal. Sylvia catches all ‘Wanders’ but discovers there’s one missing. Hearing this, the original Wander is anxious to leave, insisting he’s better off without that part of him. Sylvia argues otherwise. She then turns a corner to find the missing ‘Wander’ huddled in the dark as a frightened child. This then becomes apparent. Wander’s drive to be helpful isn’t because he was born loving or compassionate. It stems from him knowing what helplessness is truly like all too well. It’s his worst experience that prevents him from wanting anybody to feel the way he once did - no matter who they are or were.
Take a second to ponder that. Everyone’s felt helpless at one point, and those who claim otherwise fight to never admit it. For helplessness and sin are the great equalizers of humanity. Few things are more debilitating, but oh how sweet it is for someone to pick you up and say ‘I care’. Kindness is most treasured when it’s unexpected - doubly so when undeserved. That’s what Jesus offered us through the cross, and it’s something all evangelizing Christians can understand. We once lived in the dark pit. We once wallowed in sin and guilt’s slop, but only by recalling all the times God helped us in our time of need can we both desire to and boldly share that same kindness to both the lost and the saved.
After Sylvia returns the hurting piece of him, the newly completed Wander smiles. He sheds a tear and thanks Sylvia for returning the most important part. Wander isn’t perfect. He can be innocently insensitive, and his overly trusting nature is a bit self-destructive, but as far as I’m concerned, he stands head and shoulders taller than his Looney-Tune equivalents. All because he’s a silly character with a fully developed center, and a fearless heart. Christ didn’t shy away from loving His faithless friends and even His worst enemies. Surely, He can give us the same empathy for others as this perky, banjo pluckin’, floppy hatted furball.
“I wouldn’t want someone else to go through what I went through.” - Wander
Colossians 3:12-15, “Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.”