Do you remember this scene from the movie “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe?”
“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. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he…quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion!”
“That you will deary 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.” – The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.
I did not get the profound significance of this statement until the second or third time I watched The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. I meet many Lucy’s in the work that I do. When I go out to Churches and invite Christians to venture into the inner city to spend time with Christ among the homeless population, the first question is always, “Is it safe?” I never know how to answer this question because following Christ is always a dangerous proposition.
You do not have to spend much time in the Apostle Paul’s letters to realize just how dangerous being a Christ follower is. One of the best examples is 2 Corinthians 11:24-26 where the Apostle Paul writes
“Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea,I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers.”
I love this passage because no matter how bad things get for me; I have it good compared to Paul! So why is it that we as Christians today think that we can follow Christ and still play it safe at the same time? There is certainly much biblical evidence to the contrary.
However, I cannot judge the Lucy’s of the world. “Is it safe?” was my first question when I heard God calling me into the city to spend time with a young homeless mother named Stephanie who had just exited the local shelter. I knew in my first encounter with this woman in the safe comfortable confines of my local church that Christ was present as she and I shared our stories. I knew that the call to visit her at her home was of God and yet I almost allowed fear to keep me from choosing the good over the safe. I almost allowed the enemy to steal the tremendous blessings that grew out of that first act of faithfulness by convincing me that my safety was more important than my obedience.
I will never forget my heart pounding as I drove into the city and the ominous words of my husband who urged me not to go because “this city is a dangerous place”. I had him on the cell phone the entire time I was searching for Stephanies’s apartment. Like Mrs. Beaver pointed out, there are few who can go before the King without their knees knocking. But the minute Stephanie opened that apartment door and embraced me as her sister in Christ, all my fear vanished. God does not remove our fear, but if we are faithful to persevere in spite of the fear, God will reward our faithfulness.
I think the larger question is “Is it safe to ignore the call of God?” I am not big into the use of “fear of God” as a reason for people getting involved. Instead, I see the real risk not in God zapping us for being disobedient but the greater risk is in us missing out on the blessings that God has in store for us.
Do you remember the scene in Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian where Lucy after looking for Aslan throughout the movie, goes alone into the forest and finally finds him. She throws herself, arms stretched wide around his enormous neck, and embraces him with such love and devotion. Can you imagine all the blessings Lucy would have missed out on had she been too scared to approach Aslan?
In Matthew 25:40, Jesus said
“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’”
When we choose to seek Christ among the least, we are assured to find him there and while he is not safe, he is always good.