Monday, November 29, 2010

When Christ is not in your windshield but in your rear view mirror...

I ran this a very long time ago but since Narnia 3 The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is coming, I thought it might be time for a re-working of an old thought...  Watch 10 December 2010...

When the second film of C. S. Lewis Chronicles of Narnia came out, the screenwriter suggested the meaning of the film as what happens when people “lose faith, when you don’t see Aslan in your windshield and he’s in your rear view mirror...”

Obviously he was being vague about something that Lewis was specific – Aslan may mean many things to many people but to his author Aslan is the God who redeems His people by His death and resurrection – Jesus Christ.

In the movie all the people save one little girl have stopped seeing Aslan.  Aslan moved from the windshield to the rear view mirror.  In real life many cry out where is God and many have stopped seeing God in their daily lives.  For them, God is no longer in their windshield but only a past whose image resides in the rear view mirror – in the yesterday that is already gone.

Some have described this movie as being dark – not so much the mysterious and glorious triumph of good over evil as the first movie was.  But that is exactly the point.  When God is no longer on our windshield but consigned to the rear view mirror, life is dark.  Where is hope and goodness without God in the picture?  What do we read in the news or hear on TV – it is a story of growing improvement or is it the story of ever present and deeper failure?  Sin is, after all, the one doctrine that needs no Scripture to prove.  It is eminently verifiable by seeing and listening to what is around you (and in you).

That is why Scripture uses the word repent – literally to turn around.  Life is a daily cycle of repenting – of turning around so that God moves back from the rear view mirror into the windshield.  It is the theme of Prince Caspian and it is the theme of Christian life.  It is not an easy turn around but a great battle for our hearts and minds.

Life in Christ is that daily act of repentance by which we die to sin and rise to new life in Christ by turning around, returning from where we have strayed, and being restored from our falls.  And one of the simplest ways to describe it is just what the screenwriter said... it is what happens when people “lose faith, when you don’t keen Aslan in your windshield and he’s in your rear view mirror...”

I seldom meet an atheist (the Pew Study of American’s beliefs found that more than half of self-described atheists believe in God!).  But I meet a great number of folks who no longer see God, who no longer expect God, and who no longer look for God to be part of their lives.  These are folks for whom God has become a memory.  He resides no longer on their windshields but in their rear view mirrors.  He played a role in who they were or where they came from but no longer shapes who they are or where they are going.  To them we say what we must daily say to ourselves... “Come back... repent... turn around...”

C. S. Lewis is an author who aptly describes our modern predicament and who gives us the answer we need: No matter how far we stray, there is only one way back.  Christ is that way, repentance is that path, and the Spirit is the power to bring it all together.  He works through the Word and Sacraments (and even through people like you and me when we speak that Word).  Thank the Lord that He is not content to be a memory but insists upon being our present and future.

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