While I found plenty of memorable moments in the newest Narnia film, Prince Caspian, there was one that was particularly so.
In the first Narnia film, The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, bears were on Aslan’s side and were supportive and friendly toward the just-introduced kings and queens of Narnia—Peter, Edmund, Susan and Lucy. Fifteen hundred years have passed between that film and this, and the royalty of Narnia were just discovering how different and ugly things were when Lucy comes upon a bear.
Naturally, she assumes a kinship with the beast. However, the bear, intending to kill Lucy, charges her only to be stopped by the arrow of a Narnian dwarf. Shocked, Lucy asks, “What’s happened to the animals?” to which the dwarf replies, “Treat them like mere animals long enough and they’ll forget who they are.”
I think the same thing happens to us—the sons and daughters of God. Oftentimes our enemy, the world and our flesh, seek to hinder us not by rejecting us overtly and outright, but by slowly and persistently inducing us to abide by their methods, one day to believe we are little different than those of this world. Eat this and you’ll be healthy, drive that and you’ll be wise, treat people like this and you’ll be kind, spend money and you’ll help the economy, save and you’ll be prepared for retirement, etc., etc., etc. None of it is necessarily sinful, but all of it can be subversive and become dominant.
Pretty soon, Aslan becomes the answer to our prayers only in the sense that He meets our earthly needs and wants. Prayer becomes not an adventure in Narnia with the King, but an exercise in securing food, shelter, position and comfort. And because Aslan promises to see to those things in the way that He wants without our asking, when the way that we want goes unmatched, it’s not long before we cease our adventures with Aslan. How easy it is to become engrossed in the things of this world, instead of the things of our homeland.
He promised to meet our needs. Well, He hasn’t, so what’s the good of him? We’ll have to get things done on our own, the thinking goes. To borrow on the dwarf’s response to Lucy, “Treat them like mere men long enough and they’ll forget who they are.”
The apostle Paul chided the Corinthians for just this thinking and behavior: “You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men?” (1 Cor 3:3, italics mine.)
You and I will never again be merely men or merely women, as the case may be. If you’re familiar with the C.S. Lewis’ Narnia series, then you know that virtually all of the books are about the growing awareness of the kings and queens of Narnia—that they are, in fact, kings and queens already. Everyone in Narnia recognizes them; some in awe and delight, some with fear and dread. The more the kings and queens believe it, the more their behavior is affected, to the delight of Aslan.
That takes some doing, doesn’t it?