How Wonderful Does Christ Become?

How Wonderful Does Christ Become?

It was in reading C. S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia that this idea crystallized in my imagination.  The idea is simply this.  Jesus Christ becomes more and more significant as we come to know him better and better.  In the children’s adventure stories in the Chronicles of Narnia, the “Christ-figure” is represented by a grand lion–Aslan.  The children in the story begin to realize that the lion keeps getting bigger.  He seems to grow as they grow.

We see this in the four gospels.  The disciples follow Jesus, almost irrationally at first.  The teacher in whom they trust their futures seems to be a mere human being.  Maybe he’s strikes the fishermen and others as one particularly talented and self-assured.  At any rate, as the disciples share in episode after episode in Jesus’ public ministry, their estimate of him grows.

The tendency for Christ to grow doesn’t appear to end with the finish of his public ministry and resurrection.  The disciples who witness Jesus disappearing into the clouds in his very bodily ascension, still haven’t figured out fully who he is or his significance.  The Christian movement in its early centuries manages to reach a series of unanamous decisions at ecumenical councils about the grandest affirmations about the Jesus their forebears met on road and villages in Galilee.  Jesus is seen as divine.  He is seen to reign forever at the Father’s right hand.  He is ever-present with his earthly followers in the accompanying presence of the Holy Spirit and so on.  He is seen as present with God the Father working on establishing everything that was created.

Early Christians Saw More and More in Christ Even After His Ministry in Palestine

Even after the Christ’s human manifestation as Jesus of Nazareth in the First Century, the Christ continues to grow.

I’ve bumped into this growth even late in my ministry and in my recent life.  Several years ago, I became convinced that the salvation or restoration that the Church proclaims for individuals who believe in Christ, will also be extended to the whole of what God created.  N. T. Wright gives me the memorable expression: “God will do for the whole of Creation what he did for Christ when he raised him up.”  So, I’m beginning to reckon with the fact that the scope of salvation goes far beyond me or individual who believe.

Jesus and Providence

Most recently, as I’ve worked to better understand the Providence of God, I’m chewing on the idea that God’s providence is executed at least in significant part by Christ in the ministry that began in Palestine and that continues today.  Providence is not much of a Biblical word.  Nevertheless, the idea of Providence is one that even children cling to.  Providence is simply God’s intervention in the world.  Biblical faith has established in the Western World that God the Father is loving and powerful and occasionally steps mysteriously in the course of events to guide them to a good outcome.  Prayer is in part people’s plea that God will alter for the better terrible events.

What I’ve just described is kind of the rudimentary thinking of most believers in God–even kids.  Part of the assumption in this belief in God’s Providence is that God operates from the outside.  Mysteriously, God possesses the power and wisdom to seamlessly intervene in events.

What is new for me is the idea that this intervention also originates from within the world in the ministry of Jesus Christ.  In other words, Jesus, as we see him ministering to people in his public ministry and as he continues this ministry in the world today in the Spirit, is acting providentially within events to prompt all things to bend in the direction of God’s purpose.

With this insight comes also an awareness that Christ has grown, is yet more wonderful than I remembered.

The minister whose sermon I listened to last Sunday is a C. S. Lewis expert.  I asked him at the door following the service whether the growing of the Lion, Aslan, ever reaches a finished, full-grown state.  He quickly reported that the lion, in some of the Narnia books, also appears as a house cat.  Hmm.  That may yet be a new order of development–greatness that can even become small.

As for the real Christ.  I’m guessing that the growing never stops.

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