One of the reasons I love C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia is because of passages such as the following, which are full of simple, but profound insight into the truth.
“People who have not been in Narnia sometimes think that a thing cannot be good and terrible at the same time. If the children had ever thought so, they were cured of it now. Peter was shaking like a leaf in the wind. He was remembering what the Beavers had said in answer to their questions about Aslan: ‘Safe? Who said anything about safe? Of course he isn’t safe. But he’s good.” (The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe)
Aslan, the great lion who is the true king of Narnia, is a figure who represents Jesus Christ. Lewis once said that he wrote these books so that as readers got to know Aslan the lion in the make believe world of Narnia, they would come to better know the Lord Jesus, the true king of the real world in which we live. I think it is very important that each of us keep in mind that Jesus Christ is “not safe, but good.”
Some folks today, and many throughout history, have recognized that the Lord is not safe, but have failed to understand He is good. People like this tend to be afraid of God. They often blame Him for catastrophes which occur around them and for tragedies which they experience in their own lives. They frequently view the Lord as a judge who is constantly looking for those who are doing something wrong (or just having too much fun) and then delights in punishing them. These people focus on appeasing God when they think it necessary and staying far away from Him when they can.
On the other hand, many folks today, and some throughout history, have recognized that the Lord is good, but have failed to understand that He is not safe. They often define God as simply “love,” claim that it is His job to forgive everyone, and insist that “a loving God would never consign anyone to eternal hell.” Rather than viewing the Lord as a judge, they see Him as a kindly deity, whose primary message is “don’t judge each other, just accept everyone.”
Yet, both these views are a gross distortion of reality. Failing to recognize that the Lord is not safe, but is good, is a mistake which can do great harm to one’s soul. The Bible makes it clear that the Lord is good and is someone to whom we should always long to be close. At the same time it warns us that He is not safe, and indeed we should be afraid to live in rebellion against Him. As Numbers 14:18 says, “The Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet He will not let the guilty go unpunished.” It is important that we, as Romans 11:22 says, “consider both the goodness and sternness of God.”
Yours, wanting to always remember that the Lord is not safe, but good,
Rev. Dan Erickson, Senior Pastor, Chisholm Baptist Church