Jesus Is Both Good and Safe!
September 22, 2022 Blogs by: Tim Jennings, M.D.

In his beloved Christian allegorical novel The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis wrote the following exchange as the children are preparing to encounter Aslan the lion for the first time:

Susan: “Is he—quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.”

Mrs. Beaver: “If there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.”

Lucy: “Then he isn’t safe?”

Mr. Beaver: “Safe? … Who said anything about safe? Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you” (New York, NY: Harper, 1950, p. 80).

C.S. Lewis later confirmed that Aslan was indeed a character intended to represent Jesus. So it is right to ask the question, Is Jesus not only good but also safe? 

C.S. Lewis has written so many wonderful things and advanced the gospel to millions, if not billions. I have personally been blessed by his writings and have grown in my own journey with God from reading what he wrote. So I wonder if this idea from a fantasy series has been taken by many to mean something Lewis never intended? Could it be that we can determine what Lewis actually meant by the lion not being safe in what he wrote at the end of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe:

But amid all these rejoicings Aslan himself quietly slipped away. And when the Kings and Queens noticed that he wasn’t there they said nothing about it. For Mr. Beaver had warned them, “He’ll be coming and going” he had said. “One day you’ll see him and another you won’t. He doesn’t like being tied down—and of course he has other countries to attend to. It’s quite all right. He’ll often drop in. Only you mustn’t press him. He’s wild you know. Not like a tame lion” (p. 182).

Could Lewis have simply meant that Jesus is the King of kings and, as sovereign, is not on our leash, that He is not ours to control, and that it is not “safe” for us to try to force Jesus to do what we want Him to do?

But is that the same as suggesting Jesus Himself is not safe, that Jesus is a source of danger and threat? I wonder if many read Lewis’ words—“He isn’t safe. But he is good”—and project in their own ideas, ones that the author never meant, ideas that come from the Dark Ages church, ideas that are based in the lie that God’s law functions like human law, imposed rules that require the rule-giver to use power to punish rule-breakers? And, therefore, while teaching that the lion is “good,” because he died to save humans, they also teach that the lion isn’t safe because the lion is required by law, by authority, by justice to use his power to inflict pain, suffering, and death upon the wicked?

This view of a punishing god comes from a human-law view of God and God’s law, a view inspired by Satan. God’s ways and laws are not like human ways and laws (Isaiah 55:8). God is the Creator of the universe. His laws are the design laws that reality itself is built upon. Breaking God’s laws are like breaking the laws of health, like tying a plastic bag over your head and breaking the law of respiration; the act of breaking the law causes the injury, inflicts the harm, and results in ruin and death.

Death does not come from God; death comes from sin, from breaking God’s design laws for life:

  • “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23 NIV84).
  • “Sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death” (James 1:15 NIV84).
  • “The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction” (Galatians 6:8 NIV84).

God is the source of life; He is not the source of death! It is “our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light” (2 Timothy 1:10 NIV84). Jesus became human “so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death” (Hebrews 2:14, 15 NIV84).

Jesus “takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29 NIV84); Jesus takes away the cause of pain, the infection of sin, the source of suffering, and the basis of death. Sin is the cause of death, and Jesus is our remedy to the sin problem and restores us to eternal life (Romans 6:23). We have nothing to fear from Jesus; we have everything to fear from sin, from our distrust of Jesus’ and refusing Him as our remedy, from believing the lies of Satan that God and His Son are not safe.

If a person is dying of a terminal disease and there is the most compassionate and loving doctor who has a cure that works one hundred percent of the time for all who put themselves under the doctor’s care and follow the doctor’s instructions, would anyone say of the doctor, “He isn’t safe, but he is good”?

If a person with a terminal condition refused the doctor’s treatment, does the doctor become their enemy? If a patient doesn’t like the taste of the medicine so they cheat and throw away the doctor’s remedy and substitute their own “medicine” that tastes good to them—will the doctor harm them? What actually happens? Is the doctor suddenly unsafe? Couldn’t it be accurately said, “It is not safe to cheat?” But does that mean the doctor is not safe?

Does the doctor injure, harm, or kill the dying patient who refuses his treatment or cheats?

Yes, Jesus is not “tame.” He is not our pet. He is not ours to manipulate, to direct, to control, to exploit, to force to perform tricks to our liking, or to demand He give us the “treatment” we want; if we try to do so, we will discover that we are not actually dealing with Jesus but with our own perverse imaginings about Him and, perhaps, even a false Christ, the White Witch pretending to be our friend. It certainly isn’t safe to try to force Jesus to do what we want.

But this is quite different from the idea that Jesus is not safe. When you think of a lion, do you feel safe or frightened? If you feel frightened, is it because you think of the lions that we see in this world of sin?

But what of the lion that God made in Eden or the lion as Isaiah describes will be in the New Earth?

“The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them” (Isaiah 11:6 NIV84).

“The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox” (Isaiah 65:25 NIV84).

Are you frightened by these lions? Which is a more accurate depiction of Jesus: a safe lion like Adam enjoyed in Eden, or the lions damaged by sin that we see in this world, lions that are ravenous beasts that kill and destroy?

It is true—we will never tame Jesus; we will never make Him our pet to control and train to do tricks for us. But Jesus is both good and safe. In fact, it is only in Jesus that we find true safety—safety from the true source of pain, suffering, and death. Jesus is our only remedy and protector from our true enemy: sin and Satan.

So, I find that Jesus is both good and safe; I hope you do also.

 

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Tim Jennings, M.D. Timothy R. Jennings, M.D., is a board-certified psychiatrist, master psychopharmacologist, Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, Fellow of the Southern Psychiatric Association, and an international speaker. He served as president of the Southern and Tennessee Psychiatric Associations and is president and founder of Come and Reason Ministries. Dr. Jennings has authored many books, including The God-Shaped Brain, The God-Shaped Heart, and The Aging Brain. In 2022, Dr. Jennings became Chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health at Liberty University College of Osteopathic Medicine in Lynchburg, Virginia.