Christ, the Lion who Keeps Getting Bigger?
In honor of the (fairly) recently released Narnia film The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, I wish to share with our readers one of my personal reflections on the theological depth contained within these simple children’s stories.
At my grandmother’s funeral a couple of years ago, my family and I had time to reunite with many relatives. My dad remarked to me that all of his uncles who used to appear so physically imposing to him in his youth now seemed so small and diminutive in their old age. These men may have been simple lumberjacks in their younger years, but they were giants in my dad’s young eyes. Dad wasn’t alone in this observation. One of my cousins grew up in a Catholic school run by strict paddle-wielding nuns. As an adult, he came back to visit his old school, and was amazed to discover those ladies who once struck fear into his heart were really just tiny little women all along. As we grow older, we often find that those who seemed to be giants in the days of our youth were not really so titanic as we once thought.
In Prince Caspian (the second book published in the Chronicles of Narnia series), C. S. Lewis reminds us that there is a most important exception to this rule. When the Pevensie children are lost in Narnia seeking to find the way into Prince Caspian’s camp, the young Lucy experiences a personal visit from the great Aslan, who up to this point has been invisible to her older siblings. As Lucy encounters her old friend, she perceives him to be somehow “bigger” than she remembers from past experience:
“Aslan, you’re bigger.”
“That is because you are older, little one.”
“Not because you are?”
“I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger.”
It is unfortunate that you’ll only find an altered version of this lesson in the motion picture adaption. Aslan’s line has been inexplicably changed to “As you grow bigger, so will I.” But as regards the original quote, Lewis himself understood a key aspect about the believer’s relationship with Christ. While God is unchangeable in His being, attributes, and power, our relationship to Him is mutable. As we grow and mature, our perception of God may change proportionally. There are far too many theologians and scholars in this world claiming the title of “evangelical” whose perception of God has become too small as a result of their overestimation of human wisdom. Life experience exposes many of the heroes or ideals we admired as children as less impressive than we once thought. But thank God that our Savior continues to reveal himself as bigger than we could have ever imagined.