Summary: Sermon Three in the series - Christmas was not "safe," and neither is the life of a God-follower. But it is ultimate good!
What we have done to the Christmas story is just the beginning of what we have done to the entirety of Jesus’ life. We’ve portrayed him the Lamb of God, the one with children crawling all around Him. Think of the typical picture of Jesus, especially that brown one, looking off into the distance, where he has the long soft-looking hair that looks like he spent all day at the beauty parlor, and those soft looking feminine eyes. People like that Jesus because he’s safe:
“He’s not going to judge anyone!”
“He’s not going to confront my sin.”
“He’s loving, and He will have mercy on everyone and take them into heaven when they die.”
“He’s good!” “He’s safe!”
That kind of thinking leaves us with a distorted picture of Christ.
In “The Chronicles of Narnia,” C.S. Lewis tells the story of a land held under bondage by the curse of the White Witch – a land where it’s always winter, but never Christmas. The inhabitants of Narnia have long ago lost the memory of warmth and sunlight, they cannot recall joyous or happy times – but they hold out hope – they look forward to a day when deliverance will come to their land – when the rightful ruler of Narnia will return and do battle with the Witch, and bring renewed life and liberation to their land. That ruler is named Aslan – and while the Narnians speak of him in hushed tones, just the sound of his name fills the air with excitement. Upon first hearing of him, Lucy asks who Aslan is. Mrs. Beaver replies:
“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. “I’d thought he was a man. 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?
Of Course he isn’t safe. But he is good.”[ii]
Aslan, in the Chronicles, is a portrait of Jesus Christ. In fact, CS Lewis said that he did not set out to write an allegory about Jesus – but rather a supposition. He started out by asking, “Suppose Jesus were to come to a world of talking animals, how would He come?” Aslan is intended to be a representation of Christ.
How, then, can Lewis claim that Aslan is not safe? Isn’t Jesus safe? Isn’t He ultimate good?
Jesus is, in fact, good – after all He is God! He is indeed called “The Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” And He does love children, and welcomed them to his side. He did forgive those who abused Him, and He encouraged His followers to do the same – but if we only see one side of who Jesus us, we are at great risk of misunderstanding who He is, His nature and how we should respond to Him.
In a single chapter of the Bible, Revelation chapter 5, Jesus is described as both the “Lamb of God” and the “Lion of Judah.” He is described as the One who was sacrificed, and the One who has prevailed. The Lamb who was slain, and the Lion who is victorious. His is good – but He’s not safe. And the life of a Christ-follower is not one of safety, riches and comfort. Believing so is bad theology, and it leads to disappointment, discouragement and defeat.