I started feeling an irresistible urge not long ago to write about Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, but I didn’t know why at first. I started obediently writing whatever thoughts came into my head, and I found that I was gleaning important messages from it that I think we could all benefit from. I’m seeing a similar story play out in more and more films lately, thanks to these feelings I keep receiving and my willingness to follow them wherever they lead. So let’s see where this one takes us as we liken the test in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory to our own lives.
Charlie Bucket is an impoverished kid who lives in a small house with his mother and both sets of grandparents. They have almost nothing, but they have each other, and Charlie has a good heart despite his indigent living conditions. He and four other children from around the world discover golden tickets hidden in Wonka chocolate bars, which allow them to gain entry to Willy Wonka’s long-closed and mysterious chocolate factory. They don’t know that Wonka sent those golden tickets to test the children and see if they are worthy of inheriting his chocolate factory and learning all of his secrets. He does that both by putting them through the ringer in the factory and by sending a man claiming to be his competitor Slugworth to tempt them to break their promise to Wonka not to give away the Everlasting Gobstopper he hands each of them.
This life is a test. We’re all born into different circumstances around the world, but we each have the opportunity to choose what to do with our lives. The purpose of this life is to prove ourselves either worthy or unworthy of receiving all that God possesses. He sends His children to Earth to gain experiences we couldn’t have gained any other way, and He calls on us to obey His commandments. Many are called, but few are chosen. We are tested not only by physical trials and struggles inherent to the human condition, but also by Satan, who is here to tempt us to commit sin. He doesn’t work for God the way Slugworth works for Wonka, but God allows him to encourage people to bring about great evils in the world and to tempt us with worldly pleasures.
No Filthiness Allowed
Charlie and his Grandpa Joe are shocked when they make it to the end of their tour of Wonka’s factory, and he unceremoniously dismisses them before abruptly shutting his office door. None of the other children made it to the end like them, so they thought Charlie had won the prize. When they go in and ask Wonka to explain, he yells at them for violating the contract signed by Charlie at the very start. He let his guard down for just one moment earlier and disobeyed the order not to drink any Fizzy Lifting Drink. Then he accidentally contaminated the ceiling as he flew up. Even though it might have seemed like a trivial mistake at the time, it was enough to put him in breach of contract. Because he failed to obey every rule he was given to the letter, he is shut out of the factory forever and must forfeit the benefits he was going to enjoy. Grandpa Joe’s first reaction is fury at Wonka for crushing Charlie’s dreams. Charlie, on the other hand, silently takes the verbal beating, and he reacts meekly.
Similarly, God’s kingdom is seemingly shut off to all of us once we make a single misstep. God’s house is a house of glory and cleanliness. He cannot allow any unclean thing to enter in and pollute His holy house. Even the smallest sin we commit would disqualify us forever from returning to our heavenly home if we had to face the full consequences of divine justice. I imagine atheists and other people unacquainted with the mind of God would react the way Grandpa Joe does upon hearing such awful news. And that’s because we sin and fall short of the standard required to enter God’s kingdom. But that’s not the whole story. Thankfully, Jesus Christ is the only One who lived a sinless life, and He atoned for our sins so that justice could be served, and also mercy could be shown to those humble enough to let Him operate in their lives.
Giving Up the Only Thing We Truly Own
It must have been awful for Charlie to endure Wonka’s angry scolding. He knows he messed up and that he can’t offer any defense for his actions. But he can say just two words and do one small thing that speaks more eloquently than any longwinded speech he could have given. He walks right up next to Wonka, who has his face turned away from him buried in a pile of papers, and he says, “Mr. Wonka…” before putting the Everlasting Gobstopper he received from Wonka onto his desk. He could have tried to use it to take revenge on Wonka and get enough money to finally bring his family out of poverty. But even if he had succeeded in getting the money, it wouldn’t make him happy because he would know with every purchase the terrible, evil price he had paid to get it. It turned out to be the right choice because Wonka immediately tells Charlie he has won after all.
That was Charlie’s Abraham and Isaac moment. When God saw that Abraham valued Isaac above any other possession God had given him, He tested Abraham’s obedience by commanding him to sacrifice his son. Abraham was obedient and put his son onto an altar, but an angel stopped him before he actually performed the sacrifice. Because of that willingness to give up what was most precious to him on Earth, Abraham earned an eternal, heavenly reward. A wise prophet once said, “You will have all kinds of trials to pass through. And it is quite as necessary for you to be tried as it was for Abraham and other men of God, and God will feel after you, and He will take hold of you and wrench your very heart strings, and if you cannot stand it you will not be fit for an inheritance in the Celestial Kingdom of God.”
You could argue that Charlie wasn’t giving anything special to Wonka because he was simply returning the exact gift Wonka had given him. Much like how God had blessed Abraham with a son. When He asked Abraham to return his son, on the surface it appears that He wasn’t demanding anything that wasn’t already His. But there is something much more precious than the sacrifice of a piece of candy or even a life. Charlie and Abraham both sacrificed their wills. Even though Charlie wanted to obtain a lifetime supply of chocolate and plenty of comforts for his family, he was willing to give it up because he is a good boy. Just as Abraham let his will be swallowed up in the will of the Father. One thing God doesn’t own is our free will. We are free to choose right or wrong, and that is the one gift we can give to God that means more than any worldly treasure because it’s the one thing we uniquely own that didn’t come from anyone.
Happily Ever After
To return to the irresistible urge I mentioned at the start, you can probably see I found myself writing about Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory as an allegory for God wanting to give good, virtuous people all that He’s worked to create. Charlie makes mistakes and is tempted, but he wins by being willing to give up the thing he wanted most in order to atone for his mistake. In the end, he’s lifted up in the Great Glass Wonkavator high above his town, and all his dreams come true. Wonka’s final words in the film seem to start as a warning about pride and ego, but they end as a whimsical fairytale that rewards good behavior. You see, if one has a good heart and has Christlike love for others, he won’t be destroyed by receiving everything he ever wanted; he’ll live happily ever after. I hope every one of us will. I hope that the more blessings we receive, the humbler and kinder we’ll be so that one day we will be deemed worthy to receive all that God wants to give us.
This is the Deja Reviewer bidding you farewell until we meet again.
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