The Other Lion

What comes to mind when you picture a lion in your mind? For me, the verse from 1 Peter 5:8 pops into my head right away —“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” But as we dwell upon the imagery a little longer, we quickly and easily realise that there is another lion depicted in the Bible—Christ (Rev. 5-6).

In the Old Testament, God is described as a protective lion standing guard over his people (Isa. 31:4; Jer. 50:44-45), but there are also times He becomes the threatening lion standing over Israel, intent on destroying them (Isa. 38:12-13; Hos. 5:14). As his people, we are more than glad to have a God who stands on our side to protect us and destroy our enemies, but we have great trouble reconciling the disturbing fact that He can shift from sustainer to destroyer: “I cared for you in the desert, in the land of burning heat. When I fed them, they were satisfied, they became proud; then they forgot me. So I will be like a lion to them…like a lion I will devour them” (Hos. 13:5-8a).

The author who gives us disturbing insight into the devil’s work in The Screwtape Letters also provides us an unsettling view of God in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. In this fictional but theologically laced novel, C. S. Lewis depicts God as a wise and majestic lion named Aslan. Among the most memorable descriptions of the royal figure is found in Mr Beaver’s answer to Susan’s question, “Is he—quite safe?” The Narnian guide replied, “Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the king, I tell you.’” (p75-76).

God is not safe. But He is good. I wonder how much we have domesticated God in our minds, unwilling to imagine the King of the universe as unsafe. It is natural human tendency to seek safety and security in our egocentrism, to want a Saviour who deliver us from sin and death, but may we grow and learn to see that His goodness and beauty far surpasses what He did on the cross, that we may willingly and joyfully step down from our throne, and He may ascend as our Lord. May we submit our lives and every part of it to Him.