Thursday, September 9, 2010

Reflections on Trip to UK, part 4

We saw “The Lion King” in London.

It was an experience that will be forever imprinted in my memories. It took no small amount of creativity to bring an old theatre stage to resemble a forest. The opening scene included an elephant coming out of the floor, giraffes moving swiftly across the stage, and gazelles jumping from one point to another; amazing colors and music thrilling my senses.

It was more than the creativity than impacted me however. It was the story. Somehow when I used to watch the movie with my children I missed the fact that The Lion King is our story.

The main character is Simba, a child lion. He is dearly loved by his father, Mufasa. Mufasa is the King of the Jungle and is seeking to bring his son Simba up as the future King of the Jungle.

Simba has an uncle, Scar, who has different intentions for Simba; he wants to take him down so that instead he can become the future king.

Jungle life under Mufasa’s leadership is good. The food is plentiful, the lions get along and the other animals in the jungle live in harmony. Simba enjoys life; playing daily with his lion friend Nala. At one point, Scar, having seen his opportunity, encourages Simba to go off in a direction that his father specifically told him to avoid. His father did this for his protection, but Simba saw it was restriction. So, when Scar challenged him to go, his rebellion took over and he went.

His father began to worry and came to look for him. He hit danger and was killed. When Simba saw his father dead, he ran away. He knew that he could not go back to the jungle and face the other lions because it was his fault that his father died.

So, Scar became the new Lion King. The jungle began to go downhill. The plentiful food and water dried up. Wars began to break out between the animals. Everyone began to suffer.

One day Simba, now grown up, runs into Nala. She is thrilled to see him because everyone had assumed that he was dead. When he tells Nala the story, she challenges him about his identity.

She asks him look into the water at his reflection so that he can see that he has become the Lion King. She challenges him to come back to the jungle to bring back the life that they once had.

Simba argues. He expresses his doubts about his identity and his ability to lead like his father. He speaks out of shame and fear, rather than from the place of his true identity. Nala tells him that until he steps into his rightful place as king, everyone will continue to suffer, including himself because he is living far from where he was meant to live.

So, after seeing his reflection and understanding who he truly was, not who Simba thought he was, he gathers his courage and comes back to the lion tribe. They joyfully welcome him home as a king and he begins to rule.

So, you may be asking, “How can this story about lions in a far away jungle be our story?”
Simba represents us as people. Mufasa represents God. Scar is the Enemy. Nala represents the community of Jesus’ people.

God is a relational God who loves his children. He could orchestrate everything from heaven, but he has chosen the pathway of partnering with fallible people to lead his kingdom.

He is seeking to grow us up to understand that we are meant to lead in the kingdom so it is filled with peace and provision. We are meant to live into our identity as Kings and Queens to partner with God to bring his purposes from heaven to earth.

But we have an enemy.

This enemy is keenly aware of what happens when all the Simbas understand their identity and live it out. So, he is always looking for that opening to come and tempt us away from our true calling into a place of rebellion. Once a person has bit into the rebellion, the enemy can begin to taunt us with shame, guilt and fear.

However, the Body of Christ is present to help us remember; to help us to take the steps back into life with God in repentance and to love us into our true calling to follow God. We move from a place of shame to a place of grace.

I will never forget the moment at which Simba decides to stop running and to come and step into his true place on earth. When he makes that decision, the entire story shifts. It moves into a place of expectancy because Simba has moved from a place outside the kingdom into a place of relationship within the jungle.

We are constantly faced with Simbas choice.

Every day.

We either choose to move towards the place of life as we move within the truth of our identity and our calling, or we move away from it into a place of rebellion and death. We will forever be tempted to move away in rebellion; but each time we take a courageous step in our calling, we get closer to what God, our loving King, intends for us.

The reason that Lion King excited me so much is that sometimes earthly stories help us to “get” our spiritual story. I encourage you to take some time in the next few weeks to watch The Lion King, or to go to London and see it on stage, but to see it with new eyes. Eyes that remember who you are, to whom you belong, and what you are called to do on in this earthly jungle!

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