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Two Views on Christ’s Invitation

Here are two works of Christian imagination, depicting what it means for Christ to invite sinners to Himself. However, they are nearly opposite in meaning. Read both and then ask yourself the questions that follow.

 

Have You Any Room for Jesus? (Anonymous, Adapted by Daniel Whittle, 1878)

Have you any room for Jesus,
He who bore your load of sin?
As He knocks and asks admission,
Sinners, will you let Him in?

Refrain

Room for Jesus, King of Glory!
Hasten now His Word obey;
Swing the heart’s door widely open,
Bid Him enter while you may.

***

The Silver Chair (C.S. Lewis)

(Jill Pole, rasping with thirst, wants to drink from a stream, but Aslan the Lion sits on the opposite bank, watching her.)

“If you are thirsty, you may drink.”…

For a second she stared here and there, wondering who had spoken.

Then the voice said again, “If you are thirsty, come and drink,”…

She realised that it was the lion speaking. The voice was not like a man’s. It was deeper, wilder, and stronger; a sort of heavy, golden voice. It did not make her any less frightened than she had been before, but it made her frightened in rather a different way.

“Are you not thirsty?” said the Lion.

“I’m dying of thirst”, said Jill.

“May I – could I – would you mind going away while I do?”, said Jill.

The Lion answered this only by a look and a very low growl. And as Jill gazed at its motionless bulk, she realized that she might as well have asked the whole mountain to move aside for her convenience.

READ
Hymnody in the Judeo-Christian Tradition

The delicious rippling noise of the stream was driving her nearly frantic.

“Will you promise not to – do anything to me, if I do come?”, said Jill.

“I make no promise”, said the Lion.

Jill was so thirsty now that, without noticing it, she had come a step nearer.

“Do you eat girls?”, she said.

“I have swallowed up girls and boys, women and men, kings and emperors, cities and realms”, said the Lion. It didn’t say this as if it were boasting, nor as if it were sorry, nor as if it were angry. It just said it.

“I daren’t come and drink”, said Jill.

“Then you will die of thirst”, said the Lion.

“Oh dear!”, said Jill, coming another step nearer. “I suppose I must go and look for another stream then.”

“There is no other stream”, said the Lion.

***

What view of Christ does each author possess? What affections do the  writers wish to evoke with their respective pieces? Which of the two has captured the biblical Christ, and which has given us a substitute?


(This post originally appeared at Toward Conservative Christianity)

David de Bruyn

About David de Bruyn

David de Bruyn currently pastors New Covenant Baptist Church in Johannesburg, South Africa. Since 1999, he has presented a weekly radio program that is heard throughout much of central South Africa. He also blogs at Churches Without Chests.

2 Responses to Two Views on Christ’s Invitation

  1. A simplistic reply. . .

    The first is a more biblically gracious portrait- one could attach a proof-text to almost every line; although some Calvinists may have a problem with the refrain in a Rev. 3:20-kind of way.

    But the second excerpt is also biblical, and, as the character of Aslan is developed within both micro- and macro-contexts, true to His role as King to ours as His "douloi"; to His as Sovereign God, and ours as "clay pots" (Rom. 11:33-36; Jer. 18, 2 Cor. 4:2).

    Rejoicing in the gracious invitation of The God of Mercy-

    Jim Lowery (Richmond VA)

  2. Both have a proper view of sin: (1) a load, (2) a thirst

    Both have a proper view of the call: (1) knocking, (2) verbal reasoning (twice the Lion calls, three times the Lion makes logical arguments as to why she should drink).

    Both have a proper view of the response: (1) opening, (2) drinking

    Both convey a proper concern regarding the response: (1) the timing, (2) the fear. The first is more soteriological (a limitation on the times of calling) and the second is more apologetic (unbeliever with questions about God).

    They differ in that they use separate analogies. Both are biblical; however, the context of the first is often questioned.

    They differ in that they focus on different aspects of the concern regarding ones' response. Neither of these is wrong, they are both appropriate concerns (depending on your views of free will, predestination, etc.).

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