Not a tame lion

“Of course He’s good. But He’s not safe. He’s not a tame lion!” The inhabitants of C.S. Lewis’ Narnia recognized the paradox about Aslan, the Great Lion. We often tame God, with the (at least subconscious) idea of the grandfatherly old Gentleman, or the “Big Guy Upstairs”. Then worship seems unimportant, even irrelevant.

The remedy is to recognize God’s holiness, His “otherness”, as fundamental to worship. Holiness is not just His moral character, but His essential difference from us. He is Creator, and everything else (including us) is created: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty.  Worthy are you, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for you created all things, and because of Your will they existed and were created.” (Rev 4: 8, 11). Worship is the appropriate creature response to the Creator. “Come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker” (Psalm 95:6)

Worshiping God as Creator affirms not just that God is better than us, but that He is “other” than us. This is why Scripture often refers to the fear of God which we dilute to “reverence”. Reverence focuses on our decorum, sitting quietly, talking in whispers, like proper behavior in a large bank. “Fear” raises the question, ‘Who is this God that we should feel that uncomfortable emotion in His presence?’

God loves us infinitely, and yet is to be feared. Psalm 2:11 captures the idea: “Worship the LORD with fear and rejoice with trembling.”  To worship is to “rejoice with trembling”. We rejoice because He is good, Abba Father whose love for us is unfathomable. But we tremble because He is the Holy Creator. The Lion of Judah is not tame.

Copyright 2004 Michael Wiebe