Sunday, November 22, 2015

You Have To Serve Somebody

November 11, 2015 –– Solemnity of Christ the King
Conversion Series: You Have To Serve Somebody

"Once there were four children whose names were Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy." Thus begins C.S. Lewis' first Narnian story, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. It is a fantasy story in which the four children climb into a big wooden wardrobe and find themselves transported to a land of talking animals and mythological creatures, but a land marred by the rule of the wicked white witch.

On this Christ the King Sunday it is also a story that gives us a picture of Jesus. Lucy was the first to enter Narnia. She returned telling the others of her adventure, but no one believed her. Later Edmund jumped into the wardrobe and he, too, passed into the magic of Narnia. It was then that Edmund met the witch for the first time. At first he was afraid, but this woman who called herself the Queen of Narnia soon had Edmund eating enchanted candy. His fear––and his will power––seemed to melt. She made him promise to get his brother and sisters and come to her castle.

Of course, all four go to Narnia. Peter and Susan go with Lucy, but Edmund runs away to find the Queen––only he finds out she really is a witch, and it is her intent to kill all of them. Meanwhile, Peter, Susan and Lucy find out about the real king of Narnia, Aslan (who is a lion), and they journey to meet him.

Eventually the three children are united with Aslan and his army. In turn, they rescue Edmund just as the witch was sharpening her knife to kill him. Yet Edmund was still in trouble. The witch came to Aslan under a flag of truce and said Edmund belonged to her. Edmund was a traitor; he had originally chosen to serve her side. The Deep Magic––laws which governed Narnia––gave the witch the right to a kill for any treason. So Aslan and the witch confer in secret, after which, incredibly, she renounces her claim on Edmund. Unknown to his army, Aslan had offered himself as Edmund's substitute. His death for Edmund's took place that very night. Then, even as the witch gloatingly promised to kill Edmund anyway, she plunged a big knife into the lion's heart.

But the witch did not know all the Deep Magic. There was an older law that, when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor's place, Death itself would work backwards. Aslan came back to life stronger than ever. Edmund was saved.

Obviously, the close analogy of Lewis' story to the Gospel of Jesus Christ is no accident. And we need to hear this story over and over. Sometimes our understanding and appreciation of the gospel story can be refreshed when its essence comes through a new medium. That's why the Narnia stories can seem so real.

We live in a world that has been affected by a spirit of treachery. It is hard to see it because it seems natural. When we give in to greed or lust or anger or any kind of selfishness––when we make make any decision with disregard for what is pleasing to God––we are moving in a wrong direction.

Living according to our own selfish desires also shapes our identity. Each of us has a basic spiritual identity, and that identity depends on who we serve. Jesus said, No one can serve two masters (Matt 6:24). Think about Edmund. His treachery was not an isolated event in his life for which he could merely say, "Well, I made a little mistake. What say we forget it and start over?" His action identified him with the white witch. He quite suddenly found himself under her rule and on her side.

We can have a distorted understanding of freedom. God has indeed given us freedom to choose, but not one person is free from having a master. You have to serve somebody. There are two kingdoms at war in our world right now, and we are part of the battlefield. People who do not know that can think they are acting by themselves and for themselves, when in fact, everything that each one of us does (or even thinks) has a spiritual repercussion. When Edmund ate the enchanted candy he thought he was merely gratifying his sweet tooth. Actually, he was establishing his identity; he was placing himself under the control of the white witch.

The Christian Gospel is the Good News that Jesus died for each of us so we could be free from any claim darkness has on us. The prince of darkness has no right to claim us as subjects if we choose to identify with Jesus. We need to understand: we must choose one of two masters. God’s love does not mean we are set free of any and all masters. It means we are free to switch from self-serving and the realm of death to the Master whose name is Love. Opening your heart to Jesus means changing masters.

Have you chosen Jesus as your Master? I invite you to to believe what Jesus has done for you. I invite you to be a loyal servant to the true King of the universe whose name is Love. All the magic of Narnia is right here. It is here for each of us when Jesus is our King––our Lord and Master.

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