Point of Reference
by Fred Price
Any number of issues vex the church today as it attempts to be genuinely tolerant, joyfully inclusive and meaningfully relevant – honestly loving people – while standing firm for decency and scriptural holiness. It’s a difficult balancing act to maintain, similar to Paul’s call for confidence in our salvation ( Hebrews 4:16) coupled with his admonition to, “…continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” Philippians 2:12 (See also 1 John 4:17,18 )
Love for God and others is generated on our part when we realize how unworthy we really are and how blessed we’ve truly been. ( 1 John 4:19) There is no room for arrogance or complacency in our acceptance of God’s grace, but rather a worshipful reverence accompanied by a heart-felt love expressed openly and fervently to the one who deserves our praise. We should be awe-filled at the realization that a being so magnificently superior to us deigns to converse with us at all – the root word for awe denoting a mix of reverence, wonder and fear; used to identify someone as awe-filled or something as awful.
God saves us because he wants to, not because he has to. And even though salvation is presented to us as a gift of inestimable value ( Romans 6:23), we will be held accountable regarding our response to it. Commitment to his will, dedication to his cause, repentance from sin – a turning away from past practices to a new life in Christ – being His expectation. For, “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment…” Hebrews 10:26 Paul instructing us to, “Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off.” Romans 11:22 Which reminds me somewhat of a few scenes from ‘The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.’1 If you’ve seen it, you’ll recall Tumnus consoling Lucy as Aslan leaves Narnia, by reminding her of his wild nature, however good he may be; noting his need to be in other places in response to other’s needs as well. Earlier in the book and movie, Aslan’s character is revealed to the children during a conversation with the Beavers. In explaining who – or what – Aslan is, they assure them that they’ll fully understand when they see him. But Lucy isn’t satisfied with that and questions, ‘Is he a man?’ Certainly not reply the Beavers, ‘He is King of the woods – the King of beasts – a lion, the Lion.’ To which Susan then fearfully asks, ‘Is he safe?’ Mr. Beaver assuring her that everyone who meets him is nervous, and with cause! ‘Of course, he isn’t safe, but he is good. He’s the King!’ exclaim the Beavers.
These scenes hark back to numerous scriptural incidents where men have been confronted by the ‘Great Other” or his representatives. Invariably, people’s first reaction – even when being commissioned to service for this King – was awe-stricken fear followed by love, worship and obedience. (See Moses in Exodus 33:8-23; Isaiah in 6:4,5; Ezekiel in 1:28; Daniel 8:15-17 & 10:4-9; Zechariah in Luke 1:12; Mary in Luke 1:29; the shepherds in Luke 2:9; Paul in Acts 9:1-9) For a king, even a just and compassionate one, holds supreme power over his people. He has the authority and might to protect individually while promoting peace universally – as he sees fit; being worthy of worship not only as a result of what he has done but because of what he refrains from doing. So too our Lord, King and Savior; who came to save ( 1 Thessalonians 5:9) but when forced to can and will deal with us in wrath and punishment. ( Romans 2:8) Prompting Paul to warn, “It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Hebrews 10:31
In his “revelation” of things to come, John found himself in the presence of a being barely describable; one both awesome in his splendor and awful in power. “When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead.” Revelation 1:17 In describing this King’s return at the end of the age, John wrote of a faithful and true warrior who was yet fair in his judgments and just in his dealings with men; his robe red with blood, on his head many crowns, his eyes blazing like fire as the word of his mouth strikes men down as if by a sharpened sword. The armies of heaven follow Him as he sets out to rule with an iron scepter. How will you respond to this – your “King of Kings and Lord of Lords” Revelation 19:11-16
Perhaps like Peter – again from Narnia – who became High King at the behest of Aslan, but who confessed before their first meeting, “I’m longing to see him, even if I do feel frightened when it comes to the point.” But who ever after rejoiced in the presence of his all-powerful friend. (See Hebrews 4:16)
1An excellent book among a series written by C.S. Lewis.
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Fred Price - married (50 years), father of two grown children, grandfather of six.
Fred retired earlier this year after 42 years as a factory worker. He has always had a heart for young people and the challenges they face today. Over the years Fred has taught Discipleship Groups for High School and college students.
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