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Christmas Comes to Narnia—Fairy Tale or Reality?

DSC_3703_2Dear Readers, This is a wonderful Christmas sermon by Bob Marsh that I’m convinced you’ll enjoy. To read the accompanying scripture, look up Matthew 1:18-24. Wishing you love, joy and peace in our Lord, Ruth

Fairy Tale or Reality—by Robert Marsh

During these days leading to Christmas, the world’s attention has been drawn back to a classic children’s tale written in 1950 by C. S. Lewis, The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.

Story Summary

In this story we are introduced to four siblings, two sisters (Lucy and Susan) and two brothers, (Edmund and Peter). The four of them spend the summer at the estate of their uncle, who happens to be a professor.

One day, while exploring the house, they discover a wardrobe filled with fur coats. Lucy loves the feel of fur on her skin, so when the other three moved on to explore the next room, she stepped into the wardrobe and sank into the soft lush furs, but as she walked deeper into the wardrobe, she found it did not end, and eventually she found herself in a deep wood, snow at her feet and a lamppost in the distance.

Lucy’s Encounter

Lucy had entered Narnia where strange creatures lived in a world that was under the curse of the White Witch. She first met Mr. Tumnus, a faun who told her all about this strange and wonderful land. Under the witch’s wicked rule, everyone was forced to live in a world where it was always winter, but never Christmas. But there was a glimmer of hope – the people looked forward to the return of ASLAN – the rightful ruler of and creator of Narnia. When ASLAN came, He would bring the warmth and joy of summer back to the land.

Lucy spent what seemed like hours talking to Mr. Tumnus, but when she realized that she had to return, she found that no time had passed at all on the other side of the wardrobe. She found her brothers and sister, and excitedly told them the story of the land beyond the wardrobe, the faun, the witch, and the great Lion ASLAN.

Lucy’s Credibility

Imagine looks on their faces! What an imagination! But she insisted that it was true – to the point where her older brothers and sister got angry at her for lying to them! They were so concerned that they went to their uncle, the professor, and explained the situation to him. He was wise, and he asked a few good questions:

Did Lucy often lie to them?

No, in fact she was the most truthful of them all; she never lied!

Had she shown any signs of fever or illness?

No, she seemed very well.

Does she indicate any mental or emotional instability?

No, she seemed perfectly sound except for this strange talk of other worlds!

The Professor’s Wise Counsel

The professor sat back and said, “Well, if someone who is generally regarded as reliable and who shows no signs of illness or instability tells you something, then you have to consider that what they said may indeed be true.”

The others were astounded! “What! Believe in this fantastic tale of talking animals, evil witches and good lions – an entire fantasy world – all in a closet upstairs!!??? Perhaps the professor’s gone a bit wacky himself!”

How About You?

Have you ever been asked to believe something that just seemed unbelievable? In this day of urban legends and email fantasies, you hardly know what to believe anymore. When I tell someone that my earliest ancestor to arrive in the New World was a Scottish missionary, they think that’s cool. When I tell them that a couple of generations later one of my forebears, George Ross, signed the Declaration of Independence, it’s really cool – then that his daughter-in-law Betsy, made the earliest flags for the new nation, it’s amazing. Then when I tell them that one of my cousins was the first man to orbit the earth, and later a United States Senator, and ran for president – I’ve lost them – it’s just too much to believe…

The professor asks the children to believe that there just might be a different reality out there than the one we are accustomed to – a place where the rules of time and space as we know it do not apply – but it’s real nonetheless. Can we allow ourselves to believe that there is more to the universe than the seen and the tangible? Could it be that there’s more to this life than the so-called reality around us? It seems foolish – crazy!

But what if someone you trusted, and knew to be reliable, told you it was so? What do you do when you are asked to believe the unbelievable?

A Tough Situation

This week I had to deal with a man who was in a really tough situation. I have been given his permission to share with you his story:

Dear Pastor Bob,

I’m writing this to you because I just don’t know what to do. My fiancée, the woman I love, has told me that she’s pregnant. The child is NOT mine. In fact, I swear to you, Pastor, that we have been absolutely pure in our relationship. We made a commitment to each other to be sexually pure before God – no inappropriate sexual activity at all. I have kept up my end of the bargain; apparently she has not.

On top of that, pastor, is this outrageous story that she is telling me – that she HAS been faithful to me – that she has not been with another man. In fact, that she has not been with ANY man! I’m supposed to believe her when she tells me that an angel appeared to her and told her that she was going to have a baby, and that the baby was going to have no father – except God himself!

I can’t believe it! She’s such a wonderful girl! She’s never lied to me before. She comes from a great family and is perfect in every way, or I thought she was…

Please help me. I don’t know what to do. I have to break off the engagement, but I LOVE her! But how can I be with someone who obviously is lying to me, and won’t tell me the truth???

I know this sounds impossible, but I’m hoping you might have some words of wisdom for a broken-hearted guy.

Thanks,

Joseph Carpenter

The Dilemma of Believing the Unbelievable

Wow! What do you say to a guy in a spot like that? Everything reasonable in this world would tell you that he’s right, and his fiancée is lying! In the absence of her coming clean, and telling the truth, I’m sure I would advise the guy to call off the wedding – you can’t have a marriage without a foundation of trust and truthfulness.

So that’s what Joseph did, or at least that’s what he was going to do. Matthew 1:18 tells us that before he and his fiancée, Mary, were together, she was found with child. “Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man, and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.” (In those days, the engagement period was considered as binding as marriage, so there was a formal divorce for ending an engagement.)

Imagine his heartbreak! His Mary – young and – well…innocent – unfaithful to him! Pregnant by someone who she wouldn’t even identify – and then this lame story about angels and the Son of God! What kind of fool does she think he is??!!

Making a Decision

It obviously weighed heavy on Joseph’s heart, and that night, as he slept, he had a very vivid dream. In the dream, an angel appeared to him and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

When Joseph woke up the next day, he had a decision to make…was it just a dream, or was it actually an angel that had spoken to him? Was it really an angel, or the effects of that hummus last night? Was it just wishful thinking on his part, or was it the voice of God? Could he possibly believe this unbelievable story, or should he go ahead with his plans to put Mary out of his life? Could he call Rabbi Bob with such a question, or would the rabbi think he was as nutty as he was beginning to think he was?

Real People, Not Spiritual Robots

You know, we read these words in the Bible and somehow we think that the people here are all superhuman. They have their halos all securely attached, they never struggle with this stuff, but when we do that we do a great dis-service to the Bible. These are real people! They deal with the same questions, doubts, disappointments and struggles that every one of us does! This was not an easy thing for Joseph, but it didn’t take him long to make up his mind.

By the time he had washed his face and gotten dressed for the day, he knew what he was going to do. Despite what it was going to mean – for the rest of his life there would be people, even family members, who would whisper about his “sinfulness” in getting Mary pregnant before they were married – despite all that it would mean, the Bible says, “When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.”

Daring to Believe

He dared to believe the unbelievable, to take as fact the utterly ridiculous, and as a result he got the unmatched blessing of being the earthly guide and example of manhood to the Son of God. Think about that for a moment! Think of all Joseph would have lost had he not stepped out and believed the outrageous.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not asking you to believe literally in a place called Narnia, and a lion named Aslan. That story was written with the intent of being a fantasy, an allegory of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and His sacrifice to redeem the soul of lost people. But the Bible was written as truth. II Timothy 3:16 says, “All scripture is God breathed, and is intended for teaching, correcting rebuking and training in righteousness.” The lives we read about here are real – the events are factual – the claims are outrageous – but you can and must believe them!

“If someone who is generally regarded as reliable and who shows no signs of illness or instability tells you something, then you have to consider that what they said may indeed be true.”

The World’s View

During the Christmas season, much of the world will put the story of the virgin birth, the angels, the shepherds and wise men in the same category that Peter, Susan and Edmund placed Lucy’s claims about a magical world inside an upstairs closet. They smile politely, nod their heads and condescendingly say, “It’s nice that you know the story, but you don’t really believe such a tale, do you?” And by doing so, they condemn themselves to live under the curse of sin – in the cold, dark world of unbelief – blinded to the fantastic reality of God’s love and His plan to rescue them.

Your Choice

Today, I’m asking you to believe the unbelievable, to place your faith, your trust, your very life for all eternity squarely in the fantastic claims of Christmas. God loves you so much that He sent His only Son to this earth as a man, to live a perfect life, and freely offer Himself as payment for your sins, so that you can be a child of God. It’s not Fairy Tale – it’s reality.

Will you step into the realm of faith, and believe?

©2010 Robert Marsh. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Bio:
Bob Marsh is a pastor, church planter, and church planter coach. He and his wife Carol planted and ministered at Gateway Community Church in Mayville, WI for 16 years, before leaving to plant international churches in Germany in December, 2010. They have three grown children and one grandson. More information is available at www.ConvergeDarmstadt.com.