One of my favorite depictions of a Christ-figure in literature is Aslan from C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. If you are unfamiliar with the stories, Aslan is a Lion, and he is the rightful ruler of the fantasy world of Narnia. At one point in the series a little girl named Lucy is told that Aslan is a lion, which understandably concerns her. She asks what many of us would consider a rational question, “Is he safe?”
That’s the way it is with many of us as we follow Jesus. At some point in our journey we discover that this son of a carpenter is the Lion of Judah, and we want to know, “Is He safe?” In other words,
Is He going to lead me into dangerous situations?
Is He going to ask me not only to step outside of my comfort zone, but actually live outside of it?
Is He going to require me to do things that seem irrational, and even “unsafe?”
This is a critical point in the journey for most Christ-followers. Why? Because it is here that our mettle is tested. Do we trust Jesus enough to follow Him into any situation? Are we serious about doing whatever He asks? Because the answer that Lucy receives about Aslan is also true about Jesus:
He isn’t safe. But He’s good.
As I have plowed through one of the toughest sermon series I have ever written, a series on the persecuted church, I have found myself wrestling with some of the most dangerous words Jesus ever spoke. They are unsurprisingly found in His Sermon on the Mount.
You have heard it said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you. You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.
Read those words again. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Now let them sink in deep. Notice what Jesus is imploring us to do. He’s asking us to love dangerously. In other words, we are to love our fellow human being without any regard for our own well-being (turn the other cheek.) We are to love him, even if it costs us material gain (give him your cloak). We are to love him even when it requires extra time and extra effort (go the extra mile). We are even to love when nothing but hate is returned (love your enemy). A love like this will surely lead us into some dangerous territory.
But Jesus isn’t asking us to do anything He hasn’t already done. If it wasn’t for love, Jesus would have never left the safe confines of Heaven to come to earth. If it wasn’t for love, He never would have emptied Himself of His divinity in order to take on humanity. If it wasn’t for love, Jesus never would have walked that lonely road up Calvary’s hillside to the cross.
Love was dangerous for Jesus. It cost Him everything. And He loved us, “while we were still sinners.” In other words, when we were enemies of God, He loved us. He didn’t wait until we had our lives together to love us. He loved us in our mess and in our dangerous places. Even while He was dying, He loved us. “Father forgive them. They don’t know what they’re doing.”
So as you look out at a world that is becoming more and more frightening. As the danger approaches, will you follow the Lion of love? Will you trust Him to lead you to the places where He will get the greatest glory? He might lead you to a homeless man on the street, or to the bedside of a terminally ill woman. He may take you to the family of refugees from a war-torn land. He may even take you to their country to love those who hate them and hate you. You see, His love is dangerous, and so is He.
No, He’s not safe. I can assure you of that. But He is good.