Thursday, April 15, 2021

Course he isn't safe. . .

Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion." "Ooh" said Susan. ... I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion"..."Safe?" said Mr Beaver ..."Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good."  Most Christians will recognize the lines from the iconic C.S. Lewis novel The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.  Though they are used in a variety of ways, Lewis is reminding that God is not tame but wild, that He is not simply nice but dangerous, and that He can bring terror as quickly as He can give comfort.  Though this sounds auspicious, the reality is that modern Christianity has done a pretty good job of turning Aslan (God) into a toothless lion.  We do not talk that much about sin and death and we certainly avoid speaking about God's wrath.  It is no wonder, then, that forgiveness is not esteemed as a great gift and the resurrection is not preached much anymore (even at funerals, or, pardon me, celebrations of life).

What is worse, is that modern Christianity has played right into the hands of the devil, mimicking the world, and offering the worst bondage of all to a people who think they are free.  By making normal what is sin, the cross is made out to be irrelevant at best and a joke at worst.  By defining love without the mention of the cross, a weak and fragile emotion replaces the strong and sturdy love of God that was incarnate in the womb, righteous in life, obedient in death, and triumphant in resurrection.  Now God is left to play the role of divine life coach who can but cheer us on from the sidelines as we search inside of us for who we are and search through experience for why we are.  This shallow gospel is certainly safe but it is powerless to deal with what ails us and woefully short of the kind of real comfort and consolation a wounded and dying people need.

Now that God has been neutered and tamed, the Church is now also safe.  The Church is safe because there is no judgment, no right or wrong (except as the individual in a moment might decide), and no life except the one we have now and the one we will do, as we have learned from the pandemic, anything and everything to preserve.  So in one fell swoop God and His Church have moved from front and center into the sidelines and background and man is right there where man has always wanted to be -- the god of his own destiny.  And this works for a while.  As long as nothing comes along to expose our house of cards, it looks like we are kings and lords, able to make our lives become what we want them to be.  Our desires become like our sacraments in which we live out the experience of what we want, without any pesky commandments to rain on our parade.  They are our means not of grace but of pleasure, of a life without risk or danger, and a life with sufficient guarantees so that if anything bad does happen, it is certainly not our fault.

There are, of course, churches who have not quite succumbed to the influence of modern Christianity.  But it is a fight, an unpleasant fight, and a struggle.  We see to be our own best enemies, sometimes.  Worrying about how people see us more than how God sees us, we try to find the elusive line to follow in which we do not offend people and feel like we satisfy God.  God does us the service of providing us opportunities to shine and we do a credible job of make a mess of those gifts.  The world is a dark place in which fear reigns, intolerance is not tolerated, and we are free to rewrite our story, redefine our gender, and reject life from its beginning to the end we determine for it.  Yet this darkness is wallpapered over by those who control the images we see, the words we read, and the lives we lead.  It is significant, after all, that the elites in our society have deigned to inform us that we had marriage all wrong, we did not get family, we did not want a life they deemed not worth living, and we did not know whether we were male or female.

The truth is we have the Gospel.  We hear the voice of the Good Shepherd speak through His Word.  We absolve in God's name and sins are forgiven.  We wash with water endowed with the power of His Word and Spirit to give new and everlasting life.  We feed at the Lord's Table upon the flesh that is life and the blood that cleanses us from all our sins.  We stand at the grave and insist the end is not the end and the real life has just begun.  We have a clear conscience to face each day because we are forgiven and we have peace in the night because the Lord is with us.  We think we are weak but a strong God has claimed us as His own, given us new birth, and set us apart to be His own, to do His bidding, and to live under Him the new life now that death cannot end.  We should not be timid but courageous.  We do not see tomorrow but we see the real future, the end and promise that God moved time and eternity to make known.  We live in the assurance that our human structures and institutions may come and go but the Church will endure forever and hell itself cannot prevail against the forces of God.  We have all of this.  Why are we so shy?  Why do we act as if our God is weak?  Why do we not take on the enemies of God with the sword of His Word?  Yes, we will suffer but we will not suffer beyond our ability to endure.  Yes, we fight against principalities and powers and not simply flesh and blood but it is God's fight before it is ours and He has the one little word that can fell the devil's armies and the world's warriors.  Yes, we will be persecuted but this will end and heaven will not -- the mount of God on which the veil is lifted and the well marbled meat and wine twice refined will never run out.

My friends, our future lies with a God who is dangerous but good, who is not safe but merciful, who is not easy but loving.  Tame Him and He does not suffer but we do.  Neuter Him and He is not changed but we are.  Domesticate Him and He is not affected but we are.  That is the lesson we must learn before modern Christianity becomes the only Christianity the world knows.

1 comment:

Janis Williams said...

It seems that even the memory, the echo of Christianity is set to be scrubbed by Progressives today. Even people who are not “fully committed Christians” find the new religion of the Progressives completely intolerant of the smell of what (to them) is heresy.