By Zach Goodrow
In The Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis simultaneously wrote prose, poetry, allegory, and prophecy. How he did all that without compromising the integrity of any of them is beyond me. The grand narrative begins with the speaking of “the First Voice” and concludes with Aslan leading his followers in a never-ending, but all-satisfying, journey to get closer to “Emperor-Beyond-the-Sea”. The scope of the saga can be overwhelming, but there are simple, yet profound truths hidden in the story that, when read by an attentive mind, can alter the course of someone’s faith. I know that because it happened to me.
In the second book of the seven part series, there’s a conversation that happens between a beaver couple and four inquisitive, but unknowing, children. The kids find themselves in a world enveloped in frost and winter, but the beavers insist that it is not meant to be this way. They believe that there is one coming (or coming back more accurately) who will bring back the warmth and provide life to all of Narnia. But this one to come is interesting both in form and nature.
The beavers reveal to the kids that this Aslan is not only not a human, which is a real shock to the kids, but that he’s the rightful king of beasts. That he’s a lion. Which leads the two sisters to ask whether or not he is safe to be around.
“Then isn’t he safe?” said Lucy.
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good.”The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe
“There is nothing safe about the God of the Bible. Nothing. But, dear reader, he is so good.”
If you read that interaction correctly, you should have chills down your spine. I still do after reading it about 50 times. Safe? Since when has God ever been safe? There is nothing safe about the God of the Bible. Nothing. But, dear reader, he is so good.
It is to our greatest benefit that God is not safe, in case there are those who are worried about bowing before a God that might be deemed dangerous. If God were not a formidable God, what hope would we have against our formidable enemy? If we had a God who was merely our ally beside us instead of one who fights for us when we are under attack, what hope would we have about victory for the ongoing war?
No, brother or sister, we serve a God who is most unsafe. He is a God who has brought wrath on millions and upholds his law with never compromising justice, and he has the power to execute judgement on us all. And just as a safe lion is both unnatural and paradoxical, so it is with our God. The lion can either be a lion, or it can be safe. But it cannot be both fully. If the lion were to be fully safe it would be no more than an overgrown house cat. But if the lion is fully a lion, and not a cat masquerading as a king, then it cannot fully be safe. “He is not a tame lion after all”
“We can stand in front of this dangerous God unafraid because he is good.”
But he is so good. And this goodness means that he provided a way for us to stand before him. This way is most simply put, faith in Christ (as if that is a simple phrase). But through this way the Lion of the Tribe of Judah becomes the Lamb of God, and we can stand in front of this dangerous God unafraid because he is good.
So why does this matter? Why did Lewis choose to say that particular truth about God? What should we, his audience, take from such an incredibly powerful, yet strikingly simple, claim?
Our God is not safe, but he is good. He is powerful and mighty and regal and terrifying but he is also gracious and merciful and forgiving and good. He is a lion that has teeth and claws and knows how to use them, but to his children the teeth that would tear us to pieces give us comfort because they are the teeth that keep the enemy at bay.
This also means that Christians are not to be safe, but we are to be good. That is another article for another day, but we should have confidence in the fact that the type of love Christ calls us to exhibit to the world is the farthest thing from safe. But it is good. It is not safe to say that Jesus is the only way to heaven, or that all sins are worthy of eternal punishment but since when did we start equating safety with goodness?
Marriage isn’t safe. Having and raising children isn’t safe. Missionary activity isn’t safe. Getting in the car and driving to work everyday isn’t safe. We do all these things, not because they are safe but because they are good and worthwhile to do. The Christian God is not a safe one. The Christian faith is not a safe one. But just as Aslan was the one who would bring back warmth and life to Narnia, it is the Christian faith that will revive this sinful world, not because it weakly begs for followers, but because it proudly proclaims the work of a roaring Lion.
We can stand with confidence behind the Lion of Judah as his roar shakes the earth off its foundations. Not because he is harmless or safe, and not even because we are worthy of such an honor. Far from it. We can stand behind him because the fierceness that must be present in any God worthy of worship has been dealt with on our behalf, and now we can experience his fierceness as goodness. Not terror.
Stand tall Christian. We do not serve a tame God after all.