Monday, November 13, 2006

playing with aslan

This weekend we took the kids (along with another family from church) to see a community play. It was a production of “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”.

The cast consisted of teens and children. They did a really great job, and a few of the children were really impressive actors. However, there was one thing that just lept off the stage and grabbed me.

If you are familiar with the “Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”, you know that the entire plot centers around one climactic event. Aslan, the Lion Christ figure, pays the price for the sins of young Edmund. He offers his own life as a sacrifice so that the guilty child can be forgiven and set free. The most gripping moment in the story is when Alsan surrenders himself unto death…followed by his glorious resurrection and ultimate defeat of the White Witch who had held the land of Narnia under her evil spell.

In this stage production, they had to edit many elements to keep the story short. But somehow the play writer felt justified in leaving the most important part of C.S. Lewis’s story on the cutting room floor.

One moment, the witch is trying to kill Edmund…and then before you know it, from behind the curtain pops out Aslan and his Narnian army. The battle is quickly won and the story is over.

I was struck by how often culture wants to do this same thing with the person of Jesus Christ. We want a clean story without any blood, without any penalty for sin, without any death, without any consequences. We want a Christ figure who will come and win our battles for us.

I know this was just a children’s theater adaptation, and I’m not upset because I’m sure the producers of the play didn’t know any better (or maybe they did). But in a microcosm, this weekend I saw a vivid illustration of how the average person views Jesus. We’re comfortable with a good teacher, a good leader, and perhaps even a warrior for social justice who battles oppression. But the substitutive death and resurrection of Christ is something that many would rather overlook.

Jesus is often viewed as our helper and our buddy to get us out of trouble when things get rough. But our human condition is in need of more than just assistance from a friendly humanitarian. We need a Savior. We need a deep down forgiveness and restoration that can only come from the cross of Christ.