Summary: God uses reality to shatter our false images of him in order for us to embrace his more amazing truth.
Not A Tame Lion Sermon - 1/8/06
My wife has become an addict of home improvement programs and It’s Sunday night. That means that in my home we will be watching a show called Extreme Makeover: Home Edition I actually like it a lot, except when she looks over at me with that look that seems to say “Why can’t we do that with our kitchen, or living room or whatever?”
On the show, a carpenter/host named Ty Pennington leads a crew that chooses a worthy and needy family and builds them a new home. It’s fun and funny and touching and sometimes even exciting. The makeover crew surprises the family at the door and sends them on a great family vacation to Disney World or someplace like that. While they are gone the crew moves in to design and build the deram home for this family. It’s a feel-good show all around.
But there is an interesting part that happens early on in each program. The family leaves on vacation, the designers come up with all kinds of great ideas for the new home, and then they stand back and look at the old home. And then they call in a demolition team. And every program they just destroy the old home. They come up with creative ways of doing it. A biker gang or a wrecking ball or they all just take sledge hammers to it.
They videotape the demolition and then they call the family on vacation and play the video for them. We viewers get to watch them as they watch their home being destroyed. That’s fascinating to watch. The family is thrilled to get a new home, full of excited anticipation. But you can tell by their faces that it isn’t always easy to see the old place torn down. Once not long ago that was home. They’ve grown up in it, they’ve experienced family life there; there are memories There are some mixed feelings at that point. They know that they are getting something better – but the moment mixes that delight and expectation with pain of loss.
Yet it’s got to be torn down if something new is going to take its place.
The Set up
That’s pretty true of all of life. It happens in our own minds. As we experience life, as we learn things - we form ideas, images, understandings and expectations in our minds. We read a newspaper, hear a sermon or a lecture. We see something as we walk town the street or have a conversation with a friend or listen to a voice on the radio. It’s the way we organize how we think.
Of course we don’t know everything just from one report, one story. So our minds fill in the details. It gives us greater clarity in our thinking. It is a good thing to do that. Of course when we find out new things, more information. etc. our ideas, images and expectations should change to take the new information into account - to have a realistic pictutre of whatever it was that we are considereing.
Take for example the movie that came out just a few weeks ago - "The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe". Milllions of people have formed images in their minds of how Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy look. We’ve all imagined professor Kirke’s house and the Witch’s castle, the Beaver’s house and the Stone Table. One of the big concerns the people producing it was that the pictures they made would reinforce and build on the pictures we have all created in our minds - and not contradict them. In some cases that is just what happened for me. But for some of them, I know have new pictures in my mind - they have driven out the old. New information changes the way we think. But it’s not easy. Even when we learn new facts, when reality isn’t quite the way we had imagined, it is hard to change.
The movie is an interpretation. One image may be as good as the next. But sometimes the images that we have in our mind are wrong. They are untrue, quite different from the reality. And so a demolition crew moves in to do the job of breaking down the old in order to present the new. Reality is great for destroying wrong thoughts and images.
That’s what C. S. Lewis thought. He spent a quite a lot of time reminding us that the reality of God is often quite different than our expectations. We create our own images of God, others and our selves. He believed that God shatters our images by giving us the truth. God brings us face to face with reality. Most people know C.S. Lewis for his children’s fantasy books, but he was also a brilliant scholare who wrote on philosphy and Literary Christicism and theology and apologetics. He wrote a lot of books that explained things about Christianity in ways that people who were unfamiliar with it could understand.