Occupy… Narnia?

Posted on October 14, 2011 by

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“You see, friends,” he said, “that before the new, clean world I gave you is even seven hours old, a force of evil has already entered it; waked and brought hither by this son of Adam.” The Beasts, even Strawberry, all turned their eyes on Digory till he felt that he wished the ground would swallow him up. “But do not be cast down,” said Aslan, still speaking to the Beasts. “Evil will come of that evil, but it is still a long way off, and I will see to it that the worst falls upon myself. In the meantime, let us take such order that for many hundred years yet this shall be a merry land in a merry world. And as Adam’s race has done the harm, Adam’s race shall help to heal it…”

Personal responsibility. It’s not something our culture as a whole recognizes. A quick glance at today’s headlines will show several “Occupy…” movements all over the globe, whose basic demands include complete debt forgiveness (nullifying any responsibility for their past) and a high living wage, regardless of employment status, for everyone (nullifying any responsibility they might need to take for their futures).

As alien a concept as it is sometimes seems, responsibility is a deeply Biblical concept. In 2 Thessalonians, Paul gives clear instructions regarding personal responsibility:

For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread. (2Th 3:10-12)

Clearly, this passage is not talking about those who are unable to work due to severe mental or physical disability, nor is it talking about the elderly nor the very young, both of whom are unable to care for themselves. Clear instructions are given throughout Scripture as to the love and care which the Church and believers are supposed to give to these individuals.

Rather, Paul is addressing those who are “busybodies” – those who are too busy stirring up trouble to pull their own weight. But, if personal responsibility were not enough, Scripture goes a step further:

But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel. (1Ti 5:8)

So here it is: this idea that we as individuals should take responsibility for ourselves and that we as men should take responsibility not only for ourselves, but for those (our wives, our children, elderly or infirm family members) who must rely on us for support. And we have this idea taught to us in a basic, simple, grand level all throughout The Chronicles of Narnia.

Digory has, by the choices that he has made, brought a great evil – The Witch – into Narnia. And now, Digory must take responsibility for his actions and try to make amends for the wrong that he has done. As we’ve mentioned previously, this is one of the primary things that differentiates Digory from The Witch or his Uncle Andrew.

But – and this is the beautiful thing – we are reminded that personal responsibility is not exclusive of grace. Aslan, the Christ-figure, says that while Digory must take responsibility for the evil that he has brought into Narnia, he himself will still bear the worst of the consequences. What’s more, rather than giving Digory a task and expecting him to carry it out under his own steam (which would have been perfectly reasonable), he enables Digory to accomplish that task:

“Yes, sir,” said Digory again. He hadn’t the least idea of how he was to climb the cliff and find his way among all the mountains, but he didn’t like to say that for fear it would sound like making excuses. But he did say, “I hope, Aslan, you’re not in a hurry. I shan’t be able to get there and back very quickly.”

 “Little son of Adam, you shall have help,” said Aslan.

 This the essence of the gospel life, of the grace-enabled life. On our own you and I haven’t the foggiest chance of taking responsibility for our own sins anymore than Digory did of figuring out a way to rid Narnia of the Witch’s evil himself. But as Aslan bore that burden for Narnia, so Christ bears it for us.

And we are no more capable of living the Christian life daily on our own than Digory was of climbing impassible cliffs and scaling mountains. But Christ gives us the winged horse of grace, and gives us courage for the journey. Jesus overcomes our feebleness and saves sinners and uses little children to bring glory to Himself. And that is what’s so amazing about grace.

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom 5:8)

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