Thursday, September 29, 2005

Proverbs, Revelation, and Lewis

I keep a spiritual life journal. It's an inexpensive leather-bound diary with maybe two hundred blank pages. In it I write prayers, reflections from my daily Bible reading, and sermon notes. Sometimes I just jot down verses that stand out as I read - some are verses that seem pertinent to something I've been studying or teaching, some are those that speak to my particular set of sins, and some I scribble down just because they're beautiful and powerful and true. I was just leafing through my entries from the last two weeks, and I noticed that I'd recorded three verses that kind of fit together - at least there is a thread that seems to run through all three.

Before I paste these verses together for you, I want you to know that I'm a great admirer of C.S. Lewis. When I think of him I think of Romans 12:2, where Paul exhorts us to "[B]e transformed by the renewal of your mind..." Lewis considered how his whole person - mind, will, and emotions - should be changed because of the mercy of God. Then he shared it with the world by writing prolifically. In his Chronicles of Narnia series, Aslan the Lion is a type of Christ. This imagery, which is one of the images of Christ Scripture itself gives, has been very helpful to me. It captures one aspect of Jesus' nature. With this image of Jesus as a Lion in mind, consider the following verses:

"The the mightiest among beasts and does not turn back from any." Prov. 30:20

"[T]he Lion of the tribe of Judah...has conquered," Rev. 5:5

And now consider this:

"[T]he righteous are bold as a lion." Prov. 28:1

In summary, (1) Lions are the mightiest and bravest of beasts, (2) Jesus is the Lion who has conquered evil and death and sin, (3) Those who are right before God have a certain boldness that reminds one of a lion. (the Lion?)

Scripture also says that Satan "prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." (1 Peter 5:8). But this should not spoil the truth that Christ is also like a lion. The lion Satan is vicious and cruel and defeated, the lion Christ is noble and fierce and victorious. The lion Christ defeated the lion Satan at the Cross.

Another thing the Lion's death on the cross purchased was lion-like boldness for those who are his. Rightness with God and a clear conscience makes one bold (unafraid). We are little lions - still more afraid than we should be, made afraid by our own lingering unrighteous tendencies - but lions none the less. And one day we'll be like the Great Lion of the tribe of Judah, "because we shall see him as he is." (1 John 3:2)

In the end we must remind ourselves that Jesus is not really a lion at all. But to think of him this way is one way to understand him better - one commended to us by Scripture and therefore helpful to us.