Tag Archive: c s lewis


aslan“He’ll be coming and going” he had said. “One day you’ll see him and another you won’t. He doesn’t like being tied down–and of course he has other countries to attend to. It’s quite all right. He’ll often drop in. Only you mustn’t press him. He’s wild, you know. Not like a tame lion.” [C.S.Lewis ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.’ ] 

We continue the Aslan Jesus series with a guest post from a good friend:

Shasta and Aravis are heading north. From poles-apart socio-economic backgrounds, they’re fleeing loveless lives. Long story short (read it – The horse and his boy – number five in the Chronicles) – they get wind of the Calormene rulers’ plan to invade Archenland and Narnia while Peter who is now High King is distracted by marauding giants. They bolt on their talking horses (no kidding) to warn the good guys. But Rabadash’s army is closing in. Near the border they’re chased by a lion (guess who) who frightens them into outrunning their (real) pursuers.

Also, the lion claws Aravis because she drugged her slave-maid to escape from Calormene and the lion wasn’t cool with that. She’s too badly wounded to go on and she’s forced to stay with a hermit while Shasta goes on to great battles and certain heroism. But Aslan hasn’t forgotten her. He returns. And she’s changed forever.

Disclaimer: The Chronicles of Narnia aren’t God-breathed. They’re just vivid fantastical escape-into-wonder magical tales told by a really smart man who loved Jesus and wanted to reflect even in make-believe the better-believe-it fairy tale of a King born in a stable and rising in glory for eternity and for sure, we can learn from Aslan as he mirrors something of the character of Christ.

Like,

  1. 1.       He dares us.

Shasta and Aravis know they’re in danger and they’re going as fast as they can. Except they’re not. They need a bit of a kick in the talking horse. Aslan dares them into pushing harder riding faster going further. Because actually they can. And actually sometimes so can we. Pressures rise and we’re forced to act because he knows what he’s put in us and sometimes to call it out he has to be fierce.

I wonder if Jesus terrified Peter when he said to him, ‘I’ll build my church on you.’ (Matthew 16:18) Peter the rough-around-the-fishing-net guy who was the pebble that became the rock that spread truth to continents.

  1. 2.       He disciplines us.

We’ve forgotten how to be ok with difficult truth. When stuff starts getting a little off-culture we stare at the floor or do the nervous laughter let’s-rephrase-that thing. Like, we’re fine with the wounds of the Saviour as long as we don’t get scratched. But what if the Saviour is so deeply wholly motivated by love that he will do whatever it takes to make you holy? What if he’s the Saviour who says, ‘My child, don’t reject the Lord’s discipline, and don’t be upset when he corrects you. For the Lord corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights.’ (Proverbs 3:11-12)

In The problem of pain, C. S. Lewis writes, ‘God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.’

  1. 3.       He delays us.

I like how Elisabeth Elliot talked about being sick. She said she wasn’t ‘laid aside by illness but called aside to stillness.’ Somehow when our plans short circuit and there’s disappointment or delay God does deep things that just don’t sink in when we’re caught in the frenetic melee of normal life. When Jesus shows up in the waiting we’re never the same again.

Moses was, like, seriously delayed. Forty years in an Egyptian palace separated from his people. Forty years in the wilderness looking after his father-in-law’s sheep. Forty years wandering to the brink of promise. That’s a lifetime of delay. Yet Moses was the friend of God who stood sans-sandals on holy ground and raised his staff above parted waters and saw the glory ‘til his face shone.

I guess my challenge to you is: if you’re following Jesus, be scared and don’t be scared. Be scared because he’s the living God of terrifying power and blinding splendour. Don’t be scared because you are his wholly beloved, forever redeemed child and heir. And if you’re following Jesus, ‘There are far, far better things ahead than anything we leave behind.’ (C. S. Lewis)

[To read the next part on Sticks and Stones, click here]

So great to have my friend Dalene sharing a completely different perspective on this Aslan Jesus story than I would have been able to. She has a great gift for writing and I encourage you to connect more with her here:

Twitter: @deereyburn (https://twitter.com/deereyburn)

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/dalene.reyburn

Blogs: http://growyounginside.com/ and http://reyburnboys.blogspot.com/

aslan“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.”  [Aslan, ‘The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe]

There are two passages I want to look at here, both from Matthew 16:

13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”

14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

15 “But what about you?” He asked. “Who do you say I am?”

16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.’

What is possibly the most interesting part about this passage is the one that follows it. Peter has just demonstrated the ability to tune into the things of God and be directed towards the revelation of the Spirit. But then he returns to being Peter, the simple fisherman.

’21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

22 Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. “Never, Lord!” He said. “This shall never happen to you!”

23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life[f] will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.’

I mean let’s not miss this here. He calls one of his best men ‘satan’ – it doesn’t get much worse than that. This is not a tame Jesus we are dealing with. The lion is out.

Although I do believe there is a subtle distinction to be made here, because I don’t think Jesus is actually calling Peter ‘the devil’ but He is addressing the nature of the devil that is coming through the statement that Peter makes. His follow-up statement seems to suggest that – ‘you have in mind the things of man and not of God.’ That message itself [actually the root of all human suffering if you dig deep enough] is so offensive to God that Jesus has to take issue on it. He rebukes Peter right there in front of his friends. None of this Matthew 18.15 stuff of quietly dealing with the person one on one. Peter makes a public statement that goes against the very will of God and so Jesus steps in forcefully and takes it down.

It is important to pick up the ‘He isn’t safe, but He’s good’ aspects of this story. Jesus is addressing the statement Peter is making and doing so strongly because it is important for the disciples to realise just what He is and isn’t about. But He remains friends with Peter and doesn’t turf him out because of this misstep. The increasingly unpopular ‘Love the sinner, hate the sin’ which I still find to be true.

I discovered this paragraph by Ken Matto on the passage which I really liked:

‘Peter was rebuked because he was looking at things from man’s point of view rather than from God’s point of view. This would be a very subtle satanic method and very innocuous. It showed Peter had a caring spirit but one that was misguided. Jesus rebuked Peter because his thoughts were in line with Satan’s thoughts which would be anti-God even if it was done violently. Much sin is committed under the guise of care when it is misguided. This is why we need to check things out in the Scriptures, no matter how caring a person is, if they are misleading us, then they must be rebuked and this is what Jesus did with Peter. He was not chiding him but trying to refocus his thinking back on the things of God. Jesus was always teaching and training His disciples, as He was here with Peter, so when Pentecost came and they were filled with the Spirit, the disciples would be ready to start evangelizing.’ [Ken Matto]

And so a great passage to start this series with as it demonstrated both the powerful and loving nature of Jesus, who, let’s not forget, is represented both as lion and lamb.

[To read the next part in the series, a guest post by Dalene Reyburn called Glory in the Claws, click here]

aslanIf you’ve never read the Narnia series by legendary author  Clive Staples Lewis, you’re doing yourself a misfortune.

In it he crafts a mysterious and magical world called Narnia that four young British children stumble into, through the back of an old wardrobe in a country house they are evacuated to during the second World War in London, in the first book titled ‘The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe’.

Much like Pilgrim’s progress, written by John Bunyan in 1678, ‘The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe’ [and the subsequent books in the seven book series] was a Christian allegory sharing principles and truths of the Christian faith, through the telling of a captivating story.

Aslan is the name of the lion character that is introduced and it becomes clear that he represents Jesus in the way that He speaks and loves and lives [and dies, and comes back!]. He often represents a side of Jesus that we too often like to shy away from [especially in these emergent, post-modern times where we don’t ever want to feel bad or obligated or the need to repent for anything].

Two statements from ‘The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe’ illustrate this well:

“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 idea of Jesus not being safe, but still being good. With statements like ‘If you want to follow Me, deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Me,’ is not a very safe statement. But it is good.

And the second one:

“He’ll be coming and going” he had said. “One day you’ll see him and another you won’t. He doesn’t like being tied down–and of course he has other countries to attend to. It’s quite all right. He’ll often drop in. Only you mustn’t press him. He’s wild, you know. Not like a tame lion.”

We tend to like the idea of a tame Jesus, that we can control. So the idea and practice of ‘this far and no further’. We like to be able to set the boundaries and draw the lines of commitment when Jesus has already invited us to a ‘life to the full’ but one that requires complete absolute commitment.

So I wanted to run a series [and maybe I will get some help from some friends] on some of the aspects of Jesus that are maybe easier to overlook or play down. The times when Jesus came across a little more like a lion than a lamb. This is an essential part of His character and should not be missed.

Join me on this journey as we take a bit of a deeper look at Aslan Jesus:

“I have come,” said a deep voice behind them. They turned and saw the Lion himself, so bright and real and strong that everything else began at once to look pale and shadowy compared with him.” [C.S. Lewis ‘The Silver Chair’]

[disclaimer: sadly Aslan is the one character I felt the movies got wrong. He needed a James Earl Jones Mufasa type voice of authority and they gave him a friendly Uncle Liam Neeson and so he, in my opinion, came across as rather a tame lion, which was an immense pity, as the rest of the movie was pretty good]

[For part I of this series titled ‘Get thee behind me’ click here]

[for part II of this series – guest post by Dalene Reyburn titled ‘Glory in the Claws’ click here]

[For part III of this series ‘Sticks and Stones’ click here]

[For part IV on Enough being Enough, click here]

[For part V on life backing up profession of faith, click here]

[For part VI on Jesus kicking some Pharisaical butt, click here] 

Wow! This is a hectic psalm so grab your Bible or google the passage and read the whole thing. This is God claiming His position in the Universe [‘The Mighty One, God, the Lord, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to where it sets’ verse 1] and as the Lord of peoples lives [‘“Listen, my people, and I will speak; I will testify against you, Israel: I am God, your God.’ verse 7]. This is God showing a bit of wit or sarcasm [‘If I were hungry I would not tell you, for the world is mine, and all that is in it. Do I eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats?’ verse 12, 13] And this is God sending out a warning to those who claim to be followers but who are not living lives that demonstrate that at all [‘“What right have you to recite my laws or take my covenant on your lips? You hate my instruction and cast my words behind you. When you see a thief, you join with him; you throw in your lot with adulterers. You use your mouth for evil and harness your tongue to deceit. You sit and testify against your brother and slander your own mother’s son. When you did these things and I kept silent, you thought I was exactly[c] like you. But I now arraign you and set my accusations before you.’ verse 17-21]

i love it! It’s like a “BOOM!” Psalm – God announcing His Presence, majesty and power and reminding us of the relationship and where He stands in it [because how often do we reduce Him to manlike status both in how we treat Him with so much less than the praise and honour He rightfully deserves and also when we treat Him with contempt or suspicion and blame] and what we have been called towards – free gift yes but it comes with a commitment, with a covenant, with a call to lay down everything of us and take on everything of Him and be a part of living in and creating His kingdom [on earth as it is in heaven]

This Psalm conjures up imagery of Aslan the lion from C.S. Lewis ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.’

‘If there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than me or else just silly.’

‘Then he isn’t safe?’ asked 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.’

man, we have lost this aspect of God so much – with phrases like ‘Jesus is my homeboy’ or ‘i’m dating Jesus’ and comments like ‘Jesus is my dude’ or ‘me and Jesus are like this [indicate the ‘tight’ two fingers together sign] – No, you and Jesus are not like “this” – He is your King! Get down on your face in His presence and worship Him!

Yes, He has brought the gap closer and invited us in as friends and children, but don’t ever mistake that for buddies because that takes something away from who He is. All powerful, majestic, saviour of the world, life-transforming, radiant and until you can claim to be any or all of those things then remember your place and stay respectful and live from the resources of the Love He has poured into your life…

[To return to the Intro page and be connected to any of the other Psalms i have walked through before now, click here]

some more quotes from ‘Prayer: Does it make any difference?’ by Philip Yancey, which i am really enjoying at the moment:

‘In Jesus’ day tax collectors, prostitutes and unclean persons reached out their hands to receive God’s grace while religious professionals closed theirs into tight fists. In receiving a free gift, having open hands is the only requirement.’ [pg. 23]

‘Most parents feel a pang when the child outgrows dependence, even while knowing the growth to be healthy and normal. With God, the rules change. I never outgrow dependence, and to the extent I think I do, I delude myself. Asking for help lies at the root of prayer: the Lord’s Prayer itself consists of a string of such requests. Prayer is a declaration of dependence upon God.

A character in one of Henry Adam’s novels cries out in frustration, “Why must the church always appeal to my weakness and never to my strength!” I can think of several reasons. In a world that glorifies success, an admission of weakness disarms pride at the same time that it prepares us to receive grace. Meanwhile, the very weakness that drives us to pray becomes an invitation for God to respond with compassion and power.’ [pg. 27]

‘We must lay before Him what is in us, not what ought to be in us,’ wrote C.S.Lewis. To put it another way, we must trust God with what God already knows.’ [pg. 32]

for more thoughts from Philip Yancey on prayer, click here.

i have been busy reading brian mclaren’s ‘Generous Orthodoxy’ and as a previous not-a-big-fan-of-brian-mclaren am absolutely loving it and highly recommend it – breaks open a lot of different boxes and helps clarify a bunch of christian labels in a very helpful way…

here is an extract from the latest chapter which i really enjoyed titled, “Why I am Mystical/Poetic.” and the context is using metaphors to understand God:

‘So we reach for another metaphor to correct the first, and we say that God is also a father, or a friend, or a shepherd, or a vinedresser, or wind, or storm, or fire, or water, or a rock. Each metaphor enlightens, but if taken too far, or taken in the wrong way, it can mislead. (Is God cold and uncaring like a rock? Shapeless and conforming like water?) We must, therefore never underestimate our power to be wrong when talking about God, when thinking about God, when imagining God – whether in prose or in poetry. Romano Guardini, chaplain to Pope John XXIII in the Second Vatican Council era, captured the challenge of trying to speak of God and divine truth:

“[When one] attempts to convey something of God’s holy otherness he tries one earthly simile after another. In the end he discards them all as inadequate and says apparently wild and senseless things meant to startle the heart into feeling what lies beyond the reaches of the brain. Something of the kind takes place here: “Eye has not seen nor ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man, what things God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Cor 2.9). [These realities beyond understanding] can be brought closer only by the overthrow of everything naturally comprehensible. Flung into a world of new logic, we are forced to make a genuine effort to understand.”

Now there is no need to swing to an opposite extreme, to say that since even metaphors can mislead, we might as well give up on language altogether. C.S. Lewis caught the needed balance – that language can be a window through which one glimpses God, but never a box in which God can be contained – in a dense but brilliant poem called “A Footnote to All Prayers.” The poem begins:

The one whom I bow to only knows to whom I bow.
When I attempt the ineffable Name, murmuring
Thou

Then he compares himself to Phaedius, a classical Greek sculptor famous for his majestic sculptures of the gods:

And dream of Phaedian fancies and embrace in heart
Symbols (I know) which cannot be the thing thou art.
Thus always, taken at their word, all prayers blaspheme
Worshipping with frail images of folk-lore dream…

Lewis goes on to say that people deceive themselves in prayer, thinking that their images or thoughts of God are actually God, and comparesall our prayers to arrows aimed wide of their target (but that God mercifully hears despite their bad aim). All who pray, he realises, are idolators “crying unheard/To a deaf idol” if God takes the words of their prayers absolutely literally. He concludes by begging God to “take not… our literal sense” but rather to translate our limping metaphors into God’s “great/unbroken speech.”

A generous orthodoxy, in contrast to the tense, narrow, controlling, or critical orthodoxies of so much of Christian history, doesn’t take itself too seriously. It is humble; it doesn’t claim too much; it admits it walks with a limp. It doesn’t consider orthodoxy the exclusive domain of prose scholars (theologians) alone but, like Chesterton, welcomes the poets, the mystics, and even those who choose to say very little or to remain silent, including the disillusioned and the doubters. Their silence speaks eloquently of the majesty of God that goes beyond all human articulation. And it welcomes the activists, the humanitarians, the brave and courageous and compassionate, because their actions speak volumes about God tha could never be captured in a text, a sermon, an outline, or even a poem.”

[a Generous Orthodoxy, brian mclaren, pg 170-172]

step away from the mud. holiday with me.

“We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” – C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

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