A new series on what the gospel isn't, and what it is.
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S Lewis introduces us to the character of the lion, Aslan, the “king” of Narnia. In The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, Aslan sacrifices his life in place of Edmund, (the boy who betrayed the rest of his family) and then comes to life the next day. It’s easy to draw parallels to the gospel story. But throughout the book, people often describe Aslan as “not a tame lion”. Early on in the book, one of the children who has never met Aslan before, asks if he is “safe” and is answered like this:
“Safe? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good.”
This may seem like a strange thing to include in a book aimed at children. A lion who isn’t tame or ‘safe’ could be a frightening prospect.
What are the stories we tell when we talk about Jesus? What do we expect, when we decide to follow Him? Are we looking for a safe, comfortable life? If so, we might feel disappointed.
When Jesus was on earth, He said some pretty difficult things and did some things that probably made a lot of people feel uncomfortable. Here are just a few:
“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)
“But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:26-28)
“You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” (Mark 9:21)
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:43-45)
These are all challenging things – a challenge to our natural desire to look after ourselves, to live within our safe comfort zones. Jesus never promised us being a Christian would be easy. In fact, He said the opposite. He said: “In this world you will have trouble”. That’s a promise to us. But in the next breath He also gives us this promise, “But take heart; I have overcome the world”. (John 16:33).
Following Jesus may not be comfortable or even ‘safe’ – there are Christians all around the world suffering simply because they believe in Jesus – but as Paul says, in Romans: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:18)