As I read this week’s passage from Acts chapter 4, I’m reminded of a part of C.S. Lewis’ ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ in which there is a conversation about the prospect of meeting ‘Aslan’:
“Aslan is a lion; the Lion, the great Lion.”
“Ooh” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion”
“Safe?” said Mr Beaver …”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe
There was nothing ‘safe’ about following Jesus, about pledging allegiance to a different king, and the first disciples were soon to find out just how unsafe it was.
‘Asleep in the light’ by Keith Green
In most of the west, it is very ‘safe’ to follow Jesus. Peter and John ‘spoke truth to power’ and were warned to stop speaking about Jesus. We often are so scared of offending anyone or being thought of as weird, that we rarely speak Jesus’ name at all. Keith Green’s critique of this sort of safe, sanitised, Christianity should remind us that Jesus didn’t die and rise again so that we might become nicer people:
‘Cause he brings people to your door, and you turn them away
As you smile and say, “god bless you! Be at peace!” And all heaven just weeps,
‘Cause Jesus came to your door, – you left him out on the streets’
‘What this world needs’ by Casting Crowns
What this world needs is for us to stop hiding behind our relevance.
Blending in so well that people can’t see the difference.
And it’s the difference that sets the world free.
It’s tempting for Christians to try so hard to make the gospel message ‘relevant’ that we end up offering a pale imitation of the radical claims of Jesus. Peter and John didn’t pull any punches when they challenged the religious and political establishment and neither should we.
‘Revival Anthem’ by Rend Collective
Here’s another rousing number from Rend Collective who encourage us to be ‘bold as lions’ as we receive the Holy Spirit’s power. I love the image of a ‘holy riot’ being the result of God’s Spirit turning things upside down. The video, with its shades of ‘Lord of the Rings’, is great too.
Spirit fall down, start a holy riot; fill this place now with the tongues of fire
Oh, break the strongholds, come and unleash heaven, burn within us, make us bold as lions.
‘Naturally Supernatural’ by Ian Peacock
I wrote this song after attending a conference with that name, by Mike Pilvalachi, many years ago. The idea that ‘signs and wonders’ being a ‘natural’ overflow of Spirit-filled believers is something I long for in my own experience but am also equally challenged by. I don’t believe God has changed and therefore, the same power that worked through the apostles is still available to us, if we are courageous enough to ask and use it.
The blind will see and the lame will walk,
the deaf will hear and the mute will talk
as we bring your good news to the poor
The same power that raised Christ from the dead
is in those who believe in what He said –
so by your Spirit we will go
‘Tremble’ by Jeremy Riddle
Some songs seem to have an ‘anointing’ on them; a special sense of God’s involvement in the composition that helps people connect with him in a deep way; I wonder if this might be one of those. It certainly touched me as I listened to it. The name of Jesus made the authorities and the demonic influence behind those who oppose the gospel tremble – and it still does.
Jesus, Jesus, you make the darkness tremble. Jesus, Jesus, you silence fear
Your name is a light that the shadows can’t deny,
Your name cannot be overcome
Your name is alive forever lifted high,
Your name cannot be overcome
So, as we begin a new week, I hope these songs will remind you that following Jesus is far from ‘safe’. It may not be easy but it is so incredibly good.