Introducing an Unsafe Savior
When the postmodern mind encounters the closed circle between King David, a warrior and poet after God’s own heart, and Jesus Christ (see the previous post), the natural reaction is to ignore rather than to engage. For, to engage creates the danger of discovering Jesus Christ to be other than the domesticated avatar that our cultural (and some religious) elites have so carefully constructed.
Although I don’t claim to be a reliable interpreter of C.S. Lewis, this quote from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe captures, for me, this crucial insight. When one of the main characters, Lucy, is first introduced to an entity called Aslan, she assumes a man. However, upon being told that he is actually a lion she asks the obvious question.
“’Then he isn’t safe?’ said 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’”
Of course, it is Jesus Christ Himself, in Matthew 10:28, who authoritatively defines the nature of our good but unsafe God.
Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
The truth is that Christ is the Second Person of the Trinity, God Almighty. Although He chose in sovereign purpose to submit to the humiliation of human incarnation and crucifixion, He is still Almighty God. Thus, in Him, the forces of Godly justice and judgement are nonetheless sometimes dispensed with overt power, even violence. A few counter-examples should be sufficient to make the point. Please understand that my intent is not to counter-simplify our Savior to be wrathful rather than meek and mild. No, the point is that we must take seriously all aspects of His character and teaching because He is Almighty God.
Is Jesus Kindly?
By “kindly” I mean the characteristic of responding in a gentle, warmhearted manner to all people, regardless of their behavior or beliefs. The following passage from the Gospel of Matthew is one of numerous instances that clearly shows this was not always the case.
“You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of innocent Abel to the blood of Zechari’ah the son of Barachi’ah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar.” (Matthew 23:33-35, RSV)
Is Jesus Passive?
By “passive” I mean the acceptance of events or attitudes without active response or resistance. This characteristic cannot be reasonably applied to our Savior, for example, when He was confronted with the desecration of His Father’s house.
In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers at their business. And making a whip of cords, he drove them all, with the sheep and oxen, out of the temple; and he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; you shall not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” (John 2:14-16, RSV)
Is Jesus Always Meek and Mild?
Finally, to remove any remaining doubt, here is a fierce passage from the Gospel of Luke.
“I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled! I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how I am constrained until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division; for henceforth in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three; they will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against her mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.” (Luke 12:49-53, RSV)
Clearly the “meek and mild” characterization of Jesus Christ is incomplete. Secular interests (supported by their religious fellow travelers) in our culture like the “meek and mild” idea because it simultaneously renders Jesus impotent and un-differentiable from the crowd of human “wise teachers.” Christians must face up to the truth that Jesus Christ is far more than a “meek and mild” enabler of the comfortable life. To truly follow Him we must know Him in completeness.