Sermons

Summary: The scene of Aslan romping with Susan and Lucy reminds us that God created us for an abundant and joyful life.

Romping with the Lion

December 18, 2005

(Jesus said,) “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me were thieves and robbers. But the true sheep did not listen to them. Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. John 10:7-10 (NIV)

SETUP

Aslan, lion of Narnia. Written by C.S. Lewis, remind of Lion of Judah, Jesus Christ.

I don’t want to spoil the movie, so all I’ll say is that when all is darkest, Aslan reappears, larger, more powerful, and more glorious than ever. Two witnesses to this appearance: Lucy and her older sister Susan.

Then follows one of my favorite scenes in the book – unfortunately not included in the movie:

A mad chase began. Round and round the hilltop he led them, now hopelessly out of their reach, now letting them almost catch his tail, now diving between them, now tossing them in the air with his huge and beautifully velveted paws and catching them again, and now stopping unexpectedly so that all three of them rolled over together in a happy laughing heap of fur and arms and legs. It was such a romp as no one has ever had except in Narnia.

What images come to your mind when you think of God? Of Jesus?

• Stern Judge

• Sad-eyed teacher (with a British accent)

• Grandfatherly old man in robe and beard

• Majestic king, sitting on alabaster throne.

How many picture lion, romping in a meadow and playing with two little girls?

How undignified!

But is it godly?

Although no similar scene follows story of Resurrection of Jesus,

This scene captures an important part of the character of God.

On a day like today, when children fill our sanctuary,

Picture Jesus – The disciples think he’s too busy or too important to be bothered by children.

Jesus called for the children and said to the disciples, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” Luke 18:16-17

There is a statue depicting this at Crystal Cathedral – Jesus laughing, tossing little child in the air.

Indeed, unless become like children, cannot enter Kingdom!

What are children like?

Disobedient

Self-centered. (We’ve got these two covered!)

Children live in the moment!

I took my daughter, Natalia, sledding: Pure, unbounded, unrestrained pleasure

All senses engaged. Holy abandon!

Why is it that this kind of revelry seems so far removed from the Christian life experienced by so many believers?

PLEASURE UNDER SUSPICION

Asceticism:

Deny body,

Even apply pain

Identify with suffering of Christ,

Finds some support in scripture:

Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.”

Matthew 16:24-25 (NIV)

Mortify the flesh through deprivation.

BUT IS THIS WHAT JESUS INTENDED? IS this how he meant for us to live? Or is there another dimension to provide balance to this teaching?

Even a generation ago, many defined their Christian faith by what DIDN’T DO.

“I don’t drink, smoke, chew, or kiss girls who do!”

How do I know I’m a Christian? Well, I don’t…

Cards, dancing, gambling, movies, theater, wear makeup, two-piece bathing suits. Celebrate Christmas!

Why?

Well, there is a legitimate fear that some pleasures can lead to sin.

Glass of wine  drunkenness

Dance  feelings  lust and promiscuity

To be safe, many Christians ban the pleasure to prevent its abuse.

So, when many Christians hear Paul say:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Philippians 4:4 (NIV)

They think he must be talking about something subdued and internal.

PURE PLEASURE

Contrast scripture.

First miracle of Jesus:

Most would expect it to be a healing, feeding, raise someone from the dead to signify his power and jump start his ministry. Instead, this is what we read:

The next day there was a wedding celebration in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the celebration.

(Jewish weddings are not subdued, dignified affairs. Wild, raucous, joyful, uninhibited.)

The wine supply ran out during the festivities… Jesus told the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” … When the master of ceremonies tasted the water that was now wine, not knowing where it had come from (though, of course, the servants knew), he called the bridegroom over. “A host always serves the best wine first,” he said. “Then, when everyone has had a lot to drink, he brings out the less expensive wine. But you have kept the best until now!” This miraculous sign at Cana in Galilee was the first time Jesus revealed his glory. And his disciples believed in him.

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