“I am Oz, the Great and Terrible,” said the little man, in a trembling voice, “but don’t strike me–please don’t!–and I’ll do anything you want me to.”
Our friends looked at him in surprise and dismay.
“I thought Oz was a great Head,” said Dorothy.
“And I thought Oz was a lovely Lady,” said the Scarecrow.
“And I thought Oz was a terrible Beast,” said the Tin Woodman.
“And I thought Oz was a Ball of Fire,” exclaimed the Lion.
“No, you are all wrong,” said the little man meekly. “I have been making believe.”
From The wonderful wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
Some of us would like our god to be like the wonderful wizard of Oz. Someone who can conjure up smoke and fire and loud noises when needed. Who offers us courage for a task, or a better brain, or a safe journey home, in return for the odd favour we do him. But someone who can’t hurt us – a god who is ultimately just a kindly old man pulling strings behind the stage.
Bert reminded us last Sunday that such an image of God is both unbiblical and illogical. This is the God who created and sustains the universe, who knows the last hair on everyone’s head, whose glory fills the temple and brings our sinfulness into sharp relief. How can we not fear such a God?
Yet there is a kind of fear of God that is unbiblical too. This is the fear of an oppressed servant cowering before the wrath of a harsh, judgmental master. But this kind of fear doesn’t come from the bible – it stems from the Fall, when Adam and Eve hid from God because of their guilt. For those who know and love God, there shouldn’t be any guilt or fear of judgment, because we have a covenant through the blood of Jesus that guarantees his acceptance of us.
So how do we approach such a God? Boldly, because of grace, yet fearfully, because we know that it is still the throne of an awesome and holy God we come to.
“Don’t you know who is the King of Beasts? 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.”
“That you will, dearie, and no mistake,” said 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.”
“Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.
“Safe?” said Mr Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
From The Lion, the witch and the wardrobe by C. S Lewis