Not a Safe Lion.

“Is — is he a man?” asked Lucy

“Aslan a man!” said Mr. Beaver sternly. “Certainly not. I tell you he is the King of the wood and the son of the great Emperor-Beyond-the- Sea. Don’t you know who is the King of Beasts? Aslan is a lion — the Lion, the great Lion.”

“Ooh!” said Susan. “… Is he– quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.”

“That you will, dearie, and no mistake,” said Mrs. Beaver; “if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking they’re either braver than most or else just silly.”

“Then he isn’t 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. He’s the King I tell you.”

When Jesus’ disciples saw him walk on the water in John 6, it is possible they began to wonder what they had gotten themselves into; after all, the texts tells us they were afraid. Their friend was walking through a storm, across the water, toward them. They were so afraid, they didn’t want to let him onto the boat, in fact. They probably thought he was a ghost, or maybe something that would bring destruction and chaos into their lives. At any rate, Jesus had to tell them “It is I; do not be afraid.” And only then did they let him on board.

The disciples’ idea of who Jesus was, and what he was capable of shifted in that moment. This particular Sign said something different about him compared to the feeding the 5,000, or healing the paralytic.

This Sign said Jesus is not safe.

I personally find a lot of comfort in my relationship with God and Jesus; I’m supposed to see God as Abba, Father, and Jesus was human and experienced everything I did, so therefore he’s relatable, right? These are very human-like aspects of God, which I like for my own comfortable purposes. “God is supposed to comfort me,” I might say.

But there’s a problem with that if it’s taken too far. God doesn’t exist for my comfortable purposes, and for all of Jesus’ humanity, he was both fully man and fully God. Sure, God should bring us comfort… but our relationship with him doesn’t revolve around our comfort.

Actually, sometimes I think a life following and serving God is more about a lack of comfort, since it seems that the more radically someone follows Jesus, the less comfortable his or her life appears to be. These people tend to have joy, hope, peace, and a sense of comfort in the sense that God is with them and loves them, but they don’t lay back and sit in some kind of God-style baby carrier or something. They seem to get that following God might mean a lack of financial security; heck, it might mean a lack of  life security.

But there isn’t really a Bible verse you can point to that says following Jesus means your life will instantly be easy-peasy lemon squeezy. It will be made whole, yes; you will experience redemption and gain salvation, yes; and yes, sometimes this sinful world will make life scary or difficult by virtue of being a sinful and scary world.

But here’s something: maybe sometimes God is the one who is frightening. Maybe he asks us to do things that are good but are also scary or difficult. And that’s how it should be. Because a life transformed by Jesus is not your run-of-the-mill life.

I really love The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe for many reasons, but one of the things I love is how Lewis chose a lion to be the symbol for Jesus. Note he didn’t pick a lamb, even though it would have been perfectly accurate, Biblically-speaking. He choose a gigantic Lion. And lions of any size are not safe animals. They are not tame animals. Ergo, Aslan is not safe.

But he is good.

And we do Jesus a dishonor when we try to encase him into a human-shaped box that makes us feel comfortable, or into a tame, inert pill that’s easy to swallow. This cheapens Jesus’ purpose: God became man. God came to us, he stooped to our level; he fit himself, all-powerful and omnipotent, into a human body, but that didn’t mean he became limited, and that he’s docile and weak. He still had power over everything; but Jesus chose to live and die for us.

And maybe that’s a little frightening. But at the same time, it’s very good. And our response shouldn’t be to refuse him entry into our little boats; we need to invite him in.

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