The Lion-Taming Church?
Revelation 5:5, "And one of the elders said to me, "Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals."
The Lord Jesus Christ is called the Lion of the tribe of Judah, according to his human nature. This is a reference to Jacob's prophecy in Genesis 49:10. As to His divine nature, Jesus was the Root of David. Only the One who is both God and man, bears the office of Mediator between God and man and is able and worthy to open and execute all the counsels of God towards men.
Dorothy Sayers (1893-1957), was a renowned English crime writer, poet, and Christian who indicted the "lion-taming church of her day: “The people who hanged Christ never, to do them justice, accused him of being a bore – on the contrary, they thought him too dynamic to be safe. It has been left for later generations to muffle up that shattering personality and surround him with an atmosphere of tedium. We have very efficiently pared the claws of the Lion of Judah, certified him ‘meek and mild,’ and recommended him as a fitting household pet for pale curates and pious old ladies.”
Eugenia Price said, “The greatest sin of the Christian church is that it has tamed the Lion of Judah.” I would add "has attempted" to the statement, because the true Lion of Judah as revealed in scripture is not tamable.
Dave Daubenmire sums up the attitude and activities of far too many American churches: "We have lost the fear of Him. We think he doesn’t bite. We think that He has been defanged. We think that the Lion of the Tribe of Judah has lost His teeth. Like a domesticated Tom-cat we think He has been neutered.
"The American church is treating the Lion as if he was a pussy cat. Christians are being taught that all Jesus wants to do is sit on your couch with you and purr. He loves everything and everybody. He has no enemies. He has no claws. He has no teeth. The Lion, indeed, has been tamed."
There is a famous scene in "The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe" by C.S. Lewis. In the scene, the young girl Lucy learns that the king they are waiting for whose name is Aslan, (the character Lewis uses to portray the Lord Jesus Christ) is in fact a full grown lion. She asks if he is safe to which Mr. Beaver replies, "Safe, no he’s not safe, but he’s good"
The rage on college campuses today is the idea of "safe spaces" where students can shield themselves from uncomfortable or dissenting viewpoints. "I think the problem is they're trying to use this word 'safe' -- which conveys the image of a violent attack – and turning it into safe from ideas and statements we find offensive," said UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh. "There is no right to be safe from that."
This is nothing new. Since the fall in the garden of Eden, man has been looking, running, and hiding from God in humanistic, demonically-inspired, philosophical and spiritual "safe places."
Here's the bad news -- they don't exist. The Lion of the tribe of Judah -- King Jesus is the Ruler of all space and time. You can't get Him off your hands, nor can you get Him in your hands. You can't outlive Him and you can't truly live without Him. Eventually, your knee will bow and your tongue will confess, either by faith, in this life, or by the sheer force of the awesome Lion of Judah's presence, in the hereafter, that He is Lord to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:10-11).
We read in Romans 11:22, "Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God." Aslan, the lion fits the description of the words of the Apostle Paul in this verse. He reveals God’s great balance of demand and delight. He is a perfectly balanced “mix” of terror and tenderness, of fear and faith, of goodness and severity. His action toward you will be determined finally by your attitude toward him -- you will either receive and trust Him, or you will remain (Lewis’ words) “a rebel in arms” against the glorious and proper and gracious High King of the universe.
David Bryant writes concerning the Lion-taming attempts by today's church: We have trifled with the Son of God! For all practical purposes our self-serving messages about Him have domesticated Him in our own eyes. We have marginalized Him among His own people. We have sanitized the Son of God! We’ve settled for sleepy, sentimental, scaled-down versions of the One who reigns supreme. We seldom see Him as Lord over creation, over history, over the Church and over all the ages to come. Seldom do our hearts and minds get intrigued with Him above everything else."
Christ is not, nor ever will be, safe. There is no such thing as a tame lion. Lion tamers do not “tame” lions. If anything it’s the lion that tames the tamer, because the key to working with a lion is to understand and respect a lion’s boundaries and behavior and to let the lion be a lion.
The same holds true for Jesus. Jesus is not tame, but He is the good, great, glorious Lion/Lamb God-man. Because He is who He is any wannabe lion tamers who think we can get Jesus to perform, heal, and bless at our command or who dare to put our words in Jesus’ mouth, is sort of like putting our head in a lion’s mouth. It is dangerous and deadly!
In the whole gospel of our God-breathed Bible, we are shown a terrifying yet tender, dangerous, demanding, yet supremely delightful, Lord -- the Lion of the Tribe of Judah!
The Lion is not safe, but He is good and the message He has sent all of His followers out to proclaim is "Good News."
It's time we, as the Church, stopped our Lion-taming, three-ring circus attempts to draw a crowd and "win people to gentle Jesus meek and mild" and turn the Lion unconditionally loose to be Himself -- the never safe, but always good, Jesus, the Christ -- the Lion of Judah!