The last two points to last Sunday’s sermon
In my sermon last Sunday I stressed that the story of the Scriptures–Our Story–is the story of salvation, and because of this we can be confident that God loves us and is working in all things for our good. But I ran out of time before I could address the most important part of the message, the “so what?” part. Here’s what my answer to that question would have been if we hadn’t been running late.
First, remember that anger in the face of trouble is appropriate. Injustice, oppression, hunger, and disease aren’t illusions. They are real problems and should be recognized as such. C.S. Lewis almost let his anger get the better of him talking about this in Mere Christianity:
“Confronted with a cancer or a slum the Pantheist can say, “If you could only see it from the divine point of view, you would realize that this also is God.” The Christian replies, “Don’t talk damned nonsense” for Christianity is a fighting religion. It thinks God made the world—that space and time, heat and cold, and all the colors and tastes, and all the animals and vegetables, are things that God made out of His head, as a man makes up a story. But it also thinks that a great many things have gone wrong with the world that God made and that God insists, and insists loudly, on our putting them right again.”
Fatalism—bowing one’s head and accepting what happens without
complaint—is not a proper Christian response to evil. As followers of
Jesus Christ we are called to fight evil, but as we do to trust God,
not only because he isn’t the author of evil, but because when we’re in
the desert, trusting him is the only way to survive.
My older brother was once a US Army Ranger, a hard man who learned how
to survive in deserts, swamps, and mountains the hard way: the Army
would drop him in the desert without food and water and say, “We’ll be
back in two weeks. Have a nice time!” This is the Secular American Key
to Survival: self-reliance! If you’re tougher than the desert, then the
desert can’t kill you. But according to the gospel, no matter how tough
we are, we can only survive in the desert by learning to drink from the
In the next-to-last of Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia, The Silver Chair,
an English schoolgirl is dying of thirst in strange land, when she
comes upon a stream guarded by a lion, Aslan, the Christ-figure in
"Are you not thirsty?" said the Lion.
"I’m dying of thirst," said Jill.
"Then drink," said the Lion.
"May I — could I — would you mind going away while I do?" said Jill.
The Lion answered this only by a look and a very low growl. And as Jill
gazed at its motionless bulk, she realized that she might as well have
asked the whole mountain to move aside for her convenience.
The delicious rippling noise of the stream was driving her nearly frantic.
"Will you promise not to — do anything to me, if I do come?" said Jill.
"I make no promise," said the Lion.
Jill was so thirsty now that, without noticing it, she had come a step nearer.
"Do you eat girls?" she said.
"I have swallowed up girls and boys, women and men, kings and
emperors, cities and realms," said the Lion. It didn’t say this as if
it were boasting, nor as if it were sorry, nor as if it were angry. It
just said it.
"I daren’t come and drink," said Jill.
"Then you will die of thirst," said the Lion.
"Oh dear!" said Jill, coming another step nearer. "I suppose I must go and look for another stream then."
"There is no other stream,” said the Lion.”
Of course, this begs another question: how do we learn to do this? That’ll have to wait for another time.