2 Corinthians 1:10-11
Being honest enough to open our hearts to God and to each other makes us the church. But being this honest is difficult. It’s so hard, in fact, that we need God’s help.
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader in C. S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia series includes the story of a spoiled brat named Eustace. He wanders off on a deserted island, falls asleep in a dragon’s cave, and wakes up to discover that he has become the dragon. He’s become, externally, the creature he already was internally. As a dragon, he begins to realize how selfish he’s been. His character is slowly improved by being a dragon, until he feels lonely and wants to be a real friend. Eventually, the great lion Aslan comes and tells him to take off his skin. Eustace scratches and his scales begin falling off. Then he scratches a little deeper and instead of just scales, his skin peels off like a banana’s. He feels wonderful, but then he sees that he’s still rough and scaly. He has a smaller suit of scales underneath the first one. He scratches, tears, and peels off this skin too, but the same thing happens again. He scratches off a third skin and steps out of it only to find a fourth.
Then Aslan says, “I’ll have to do it for you.” The first tear Aslan makes is so deep that Eustace thinks it’s gone into his heart. And when Aslan pulls the skin off, it hurts more terribly than any layer before. But finally the dragon’s skin lies on the grass and Aslan throws Eustace into the water. It hurts at first, but then the pain of baptism is gone. He’s finally a human again, a real person capable of honesty and love.
God will help us shed our artificial layers, too. We become authentic as God makes us authentic. If we let God help us, the church will be an honest, loving community that shares its suffering and its healing.
In what ways is God helping you to become more honest and caring?
God, make us your people. Give us the courage we need to let compassion overcome self-centeredness and fear. Help us trust that you are at work in and among us for your great good. Amen.