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.” 

A great example of this, which is recorded in at least 3 of the Gospels, so clearly someones thought this was significant, is the story of Jesus clearing out the temple.

Here are the accounts found in John and Matthew:

John 2

13 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15 So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” 17 His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”

Matthew 21 

12 Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. 13 “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’”

Clearly Jesus was good. But these two accounts of His actions when He got to the point of “Enough is enough” show that He was not all that safe either.

Remembering at the same time, the account recorded in Luke 22 of Jesus refusing to resists arrest and going so far as to heal one of the men who had come to arrest him [that swashbuckling Peter took an ear off of], Jesus shows that He wasn’t as concerned with His own safety. But this was an account of the House of God. And people were being ripped off. And robbed. And that was too much for Jesus.

This reminds me of the Old Testament story of the Israelites and the golden calf in Exodus 32. First Moses loses it and breaks the commandments, grinds the idol into dust and makes them drink it. But God commands an even harsher consequence and 3000 people are killed that day and a plague affects a whole bunch more.

This reminds me of Ananias and Sapphira withholding money from the church while saying they had given it all to them. Once again God answers with “Enough is enough” and both of them are struck down and fear seizes the church.

I know stories like this cause some people to struggle with the view of God as loving and good. So we’d rather gloss over those stories or pretend like they don’t exist and focus on the ones with the nice comfortable happy God promises. But I don’t think that gives a clear and honest picture of God. And if you read the story of Israel in the first half of the bible you get to see just how patient and forgiving God is with their constant adultery towards Him.

He is a good God. But He is also Holy. And Divine. And there is the sense that as much as He welcomes us as friends and even children, it is important that we remember just Who we are dealing with and show Him the respect and devotion He deserves.

Does this mean we have to live in fear that if we accidentally have a bad day and step out of line that He is going to send down a lightning bolt to take us out? Of course not. But when we are deliberately turning away and worshipping other Gods or when we are bleeding the poor [on the doorstep of the house of God] for our own gain or when we are actively deceiving the people of God for reputation, then we may need to be a little bit more careful. When we are producing teaching that is leading children astray [Matthe 18] or not looking after those who are viewed as the least of these [Matthew 25] then we had better realise once more… that yes, He is good. But He is definitely not tame. This is His story. Not ours.

He is definitely not safe for us when we are turning our back on Him and heading in the opposite direction. The stories of Jonah and King David and Peter and others demonstrate – it can be painful and involve loss and the need for humility and some extent of brokenness to have to happen within us. But when we turn back and face Him and direct our lives back towards Him, then much like the Father in the story of the prodigal son [Luke 15] He is already facing us, and heading in our direction, and running towards us and calling for the celebration to be prepared.

Safe? Nah, but then we don’t always need safe.

Good? Undoubtably.

[To read the next part of this series, titled Life backing up profession of faith, click here]