The Lion AND The Lamb?3
Several weeks ago we learned a new song in church called "The Lion and the Lamb." It was instantly powerful to me. These are the lyrics:
He’s coming on the clouds
Kings and kingdoms will bow down
Every chain will break
As broken hearts declare His praise
For who can stop the Lord Almighty
Our God is the Lion, the Lion of Judah
He’s roaring with power and fighting our battles
And every knee will bow before Him
Our God is the Lamb, the Lamb that was slain
For the sin of the world His blood breaks the chains
And every knee will bow before The Lion and the Lamb
Every knee will bow before Him
Open up the gates
Make way before the King of Kings
The God who comes to save
Is here to set the captives free
For who can stop the Lord Almighty
Who can stop the Lord Almighty
The truth of this song has stuck with me ever since. I've been exploring different perspectives of the ideas that we sang. And while I could have written on any number of points, I've really wrestled with this:
Do we have room in our hearts and minds for Jesus to be the Lion AND the Lamb?
I'm going to generalize a bit here. Our tendancy is to polarize our positions in some form or fashion. That's a defect in our fleshly heart. While the Spirit makes war with the flesh, we all know, just as Paul did (Romans 7:19), that the victory is not consumated until we are with Christ. I think that Christians tend to lean towards one aspect of Jesus that they are comfortable with over another. And this is a problem.
For "conservative" Christians, it is easy for them to see Jesus as the Lion of Judah (Romans 5:5). They love to roar, so it's pretty cool when Jesus does, too. They will be quick to embrace his holiness in the face of sin. It is most definitely the Lion turning over those temple tables (John 2:15). When it's time to face off against false teachers and false teachings, the Lion is going to come in very handy.
For "liberal" Christians, it is easy for them to see Jesus as the Lamb of God (John 1:29). The Lamb is gentle and loving. The Lamb layed down his life. The Lamb was a servant. When the Church needs to present a Jesus to a world that sees Christians as increasingly bigoted and ignorant, they present the Lamb. After all, it is the kindness of the Lord that leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4). The Lamb values all life and does anything to treasure it.
In this paradigm, neither side is "wrong." There is some good stuff there. They are just offering an imcomplete picture of Jesus, which really then makes both sides wrong. This is the thing about God as he has revealed himself to mankind: you're going to often be uncomfortable. Jesus, the perfect revelation of God, doesn't ever line up with the generalizations that so many people try to force on him. It doesn't take long to browse internet "discussions" to see that reality. But as believers we must rise up and embrace the uncomfortable nature of a God who is so much more than we could imagine or deserve.
For the conservative Christian, there must never be a moment where we forget the compassion and love of God that drove him to rescue us. The Lamb of God who was sacrificed on our behalf should cultivate a gracious heart of compassion and mercy. Trust me, these things do not compromise your firm stance on right doctrine. Jesus was unbelievably compassionate in the face of great amounts of sin, yet never waivered. It is in sacrifice and weakness that our victory of sin was won on our behalf. The Lamb died for that person you despise. The gospel evens the playing field.
For the liberal Christian, we must always seek to allow Jesus to be the Lion, to remember God's unfailing faithfulness to his own glory and holiness. We don't have to present Jesus as something palatable. Frankly, to the flesh, he is most definitely not. And we should rejoice in that. We should rejoice that our Savior is a conqueror, that we have hope that he is mighty to save. I can only imagine the shock of a people who thought of Jesus in only mellow "Jesus loves everybody just as they are so no one needs to change anything" terms as he comes back with eyes of fire, robe dipped in blood, sword in his mouth, armies at his side and ruling with a rod of iron (Revelation 19:11-16).
God passionately hates sin and is actively crushing it and those who glorify in it. God passionately loves people and desires to see them fulfill their created purpose by glorifying him as they enjoy relationship with him. The only way these two realities can coexist? The Lion and the Lamb. King Jesus. Savior of the world.
While a super famous quote, I'll put it here anyway because of how much I love it. In The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe there is a scene where the children from Earth are talking to the beavers of Narnia about Aslan, the lion who is the Christ-figure in the story. This is how he's described:
“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.”
God is not safe. God is good.
Can he be both the Lion and the Lamb to you?