I have begun to read the Chronicles of Narnia with my children and wife. And I must commend these stories to you. They are wonderful.
We decided to start with The Magician’s Nephew, and I am not into the debate of which book goes in which order. Just read them. Anyway, we finished The Magician’s Nephew and there is one aspect of the book, among many, that reminded me of the importance of Christendom.
Drudgery often accompanies faith, and this should not be. Christians can be quite dismal, when they have every reason not to be. You know, God became Man for us, lived and died and lived again for us. He know has given all authority in heaven and on earth to the God-man and has promised that every nation will bow the knee to Jesus and every enemy, including death, will be done away with…and we chatter our teeth in terror.
But there is another aspect of banality among Christians, we simply lack joy and laughter for some reason. We act as though, because we belong to Jesus, we cannot laugh or tell jokes or what not. Do you remember that story about Herod in the book of Acts being eaten by worms? That’s funny. An Edomite who claimed to be the voice of God is then consumed as the dust of the earth. The symbolism is hilarious…I mean, hey! That’s not funny!
When Christendom is simply somber without joy we are dullards. However, we can have a sense of joyful sobriety. Don’t act like Herod, seriously don’t do it, because the Lord of heaven and earth will stoop down and laugh at you…and you just may be eaten by worms. See? Serious joy.
Well, anyway, back to Narnia. Aslan has just sung the world of Narnia into existence and he gives speech to the beasts, and one cracks a joke on accident and they are not sure whether or not it is acceptable to do so. This is an understandable question as Aslan had just went through the solemn act of creation, after all. And this is how Aslan replies,
Laugh and fear not, creatures. Now that you are no longer dumb and witless, you need not always be grave. For jokes as well as justice come in with the speech.
The allegory here, I think, is that Jesus has made us Christian from once brute beasts. We followed the lusts of our flesh. We loved our sin. We desired the curse rather than life, and then Jesus gives us life, true life. He gives us a new way to see the world, the right way. And He gives us a new way to talk, the godly way.
This godly way is not devoid of laughter, but it is in the very marrow of our lexicon. Isn’t there something in the Bible about inexpressible and glorious joy? Oh yeah, 1 Peter 1:8. This is what is to characterize Christendom. I also think C.S. Lewis was onto something when he placed jokes and justice together. The reason for such joy is that justice is a guarantee.
In Narnia, the evil witch Jadis had invaded the world, and the guarantee is that Aslan will deal with her. Evil will be done away with, Jesus promised. Look at all that wickedness, Jesus already beat it, and promises to pulverize it.
Take an example. Have you noticed that our nation at this very moment is filled with Herods? Men and women who think they can dictate to other image bearers of God what liberties we do or do not have? Have you noticed that the Herods of our land have assumed the role of God? Thou shalt not eat a cheeseburger and drive, say some Herodian officials in Washington. Thou shalt have permission to murder babies and doctor-assisted suicide is A-ok, say the same tinpot Herodian hucksters from shore to shore and the masses are crying out, “The voice of God and not man!”
Why do the nations rage
and the peoples plot in vain?
2 The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against Yahweh and against His Anointed, saying,
3 “Let us burst their bonds apart
and cast away their cords from us.”
4 He who sits in the heavens laughs;
the Lord holds them in derision.
5 Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
and terrify them in his fury, saying,
6 “As for me, I have set my King
on Zion, my holy hill.”
7 I will tell of the decree:
Yahweh said to Me, “You are My Son;
today I have begotten You.
8 Ask of Me, and I will make the nations Your heritage,
and the ends of the earth Your possession.
9 You shall break them with a rod of iron [or an infestation of flesh-eating worms!]
and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”
10 Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
be warned, O rulers of the earth.
11 Serve Yahweh with fear,
and rejoice with trembling.
12 Kiss the Son,
lest He be angry, and you perish in the way,
for His wrath is quickly kindled.
Blessed [happy!] are all who take refuge in Him.
Laugh and fear not, creatures.