Summary: Week 1 on the Chronicles of Narnia -- Through the Wardrobe focuses on the world beyond the one we can see and feel -- the realm of the Spirit.
Today we exploring the connections between what has been called the greatest story ever told – the true story of Jesus Christ and His very real role in history – and one of the most enjoyable children’s stories ever written: “The Chronicles of Narnia”.
There really is a connection between these two stories – The Real Story about Jesus Christ and the fantasy story of Narnia – though it may not be obvious to everyone at first. One reason I know this to be true is because the author of the Narnia stories was a British writer named C.S. Lewis – Jack to his friends. Jack Lewis became a deeply devoted Christ-follower whose primary talent in life was his incredible gift for writing.
The fact that Jack Lewis ever became a Christian is in itself pretty amazing. At 10 year of age his mother died of cancer and in his deep grief the seeds of bitterness and doubt were sown in his heart. By age 13 Jack became pretty much a full-blown atheist and stayed that way until his early 30s when through his friendship with a group of Christian professors he experienced a deeply profound and totally surprising Christian conversion.
By the time Jack Lewis became a follower of Jesus in 1931 he was a teacher of English Literature at Oxford University where Christianity was typically mocked as being foolish and simple-minded. In response to the arrogant attitude of intellectual superiority and atheism that surrounded him Jack Lewis spent the next 30 years of his life trying to explain through his speaking and writing, that what his colleagues called “Mere – Christianity” was in fact the most profound Truth of all. He did a tremendous job of it!
C. S. Lewis’ most famous non-fiction book – Mere Christianity – not only explained the basic tenets of Christian faith to Lewis’ professor friends – but it went on to sell millions of copies becoming one of the most influential Christian books of all time. Through that one book alone, untold thousands of seekers and struggling believers have found a profound faith in God.
While on the intellectual level Jack Lewis was becoming the voice of reasoned and robust Christian faith – God was also at work in his life on an entirely different level. In the 1950s Jack Lewis followed the example of his Christian friend J. R. R. Tolkien and wrote a series of 7 timeless children’s classics titled “The Chronicles of Narnia.”
In the first story – The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe – Lewis introduces us to an amazing fantasy world beyond the doorway of a closet in the country mansion where four children have been sent to live with an eccentric professor. In this world beyond the wardrobe, called Narnia, animals talk and a wicked witch has cast an evil spell that makes it always winter but never Christmas. In Narnia the only hope for spring to come lies with a lion – not just any lion mind you – his name is Aslan. And we soon learn that Aslan is both terrifying and tender – not really safe – but always good.
Now if you stop to think about it – you soon realize that this fantasyland called Narnia is not completely different from our own. It isn’t only in Narnia that evil casts a spell on people- now is it? It’s not just in Narnia that there are unseen forces – both good and evil -- at work. And it isn’t just the residents of Narnia whose only hope lies with a fierce but loving Lion.
In fact – we all know another story – a true story -- in which the Lion bears another name and enters our world through a cattle stall in a backwater town on the other side of the world so he can break the spell of evil and bring new life. But that’s getting ahead of ourselves.
Millions of movie-goers have watched Narnia’s breath-taking scenery and mind-boggling special effects and some have missed the message. Some weren’t looking for any message and others missed the point because they came to Narnia expecting a black and white churchy morality play.
Jack Lewis deliberately didn’t use a paint-by-number – connect-the-dots approach to writing about the spiritual truths in Narnia. Instead he just wrote the very best creative and compelling children’s adventure stories he could and along the way he allowed his deepest held beliefs about God and life to bubble to the surface. It is not really a story to be studied and analyzed it’s a story to enter and be captivated by.
So here we are – right here at the doorway to another world. Beyond this doorway lies another world where a friendly faun carrying an umbrella waits for us by the lamp post and busy beavers serve tea to their honored guests telling us stories of the amazing lion Aslan who is on the move to put an end to the eternal winter.