Friday, January 4, 2019

Who Wants a Safe Lion?

In C.S. Lewis' The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, when the four Pevensie children (Peter, Susan, Edmond, and Lucy) meet the talking Beavers upon entering Narnia together for the first time, Mrs. Beaver begins to tell them about Aslan, the great Lion, the Son of the Great Emperor across the sea. When the children ask if Aslan is safe, Mr. Beaver responds, "Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you." Though the Beavers knew that Aslan was not "safe" they longed for his return anyway. Not because he was safe, or even because he was powerful enough to save them from the wicked White Witch, but because he was good.

In Exodus 33, Moses had just returned from the mountain where he had received God's law to discover that the people had already built themselves an idol and begun to worship it. Moses was rather harsh with the people, killing many of them in retribution for their betrayal and idolatry. After a time of uncertainty, Moses was reassured by God that God would continue to accompany them to the Promised Land, but then Moses made a request of God: "Please, let me see your glory." To which God responded, "I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim the name Yahweh before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion." (Exodus 33:18-19, HCSB).

I don't know what Moses had in mind when he asked God to show him God's glory but the opportunity allowed God to teach Moses something very important. God's most magnificent attribute, God's glory, is not God's miraculous power, God's might, God's wisdom, or even God's perfect justice. God's most magnificent attribute, God's glory, is God's goodness, God's capacity for being gracious and compassionate.

As followers of Christ, we are called to be perfect, just as our Heavenly Father is perfect (Matthew 5:48), but even this command of Jesus is given in the context of loving enemies and tax collectors. Our call to be like Jesus, to imitate our Father in Heaven, is not just a call to be holy and just. Our call is to imitate God in all God's glory - to be good and gracious and compassionate, to love the enemy and the sinner. We are to follow the example of Jesus from John 8 who, confronted with a woman caught in the act of adultery, did not condemn her, but saved her from the self-righteous and scheming mobs and then told her, "Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin anymore" (John 8:11, HCSB).

If you want to be like Jesus, if you truly want to be conformed to the image of Christ, then do not be satisfied with being wise, or just, or even having Spirit-enabled abilities to heal and prophesy. Strive to be good. Then, maybe when the world sees us, they will know that we don't condone the sin they live in, that being around us is not "safe" because their world may be turned upside down, but they will yearn for the Presence that comes with us because they can tell, through us, that God is good.

Preparing the Disciples for the Crane Kick

In the original Karate Kid with Ralph Macchio, once his training began with Mr Miyagi, Daniel couldn't wait to learn to kick or punch....