Pastoral Letter

Once bitten

I don’t like snakes. It isn’t a phobia as such. It’s just that, many years ago while living in Egypt, I was bitten by one. Two friends and I visited the house of a professional hunter. Hanging in pillowcases on the wall, secured in hessian sacks and perched on stands he had various reptiles and birds of prey. These were sold to collectors which, judging by the two Mercedes parked outside, was a pretty lucrative business. We were being shown a small black serpent. “Do you want to hold it?”
“No, it’s fine. I’m happy just to look.”
“Go on, hold it.”
“No, really, I’d rather not.”
“Here, take it!”
I got hold of it – firmly – around the head with the tips of the thumb, index finger and middle finger of my right hand just as I had seen people do on TV.
“Don’t hold its head quite so tightly.”
In less than the blink of an eye, it struck and left a small, but perfectly formed, fang stuck in the last knuckle of the index finger on my right hand. I have had a fear of snakes ever since and so we don’t socialise.

The Bible tells us to fear God. We are told fear of God is both the beginning of knowledge and wisdom (Proverbs 1 v. 7, 9 v. 10) and is the source of all manner of blessings (e.g. Psalm 103). But if fear keeps us away from things (like snakes) how does keeping away from God bring knowledge, wisdom and myriad blessings too many to mention? And anyway, isn’t God loving and good? Why should we fear Him?

In The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis, Susan asks Mr. Beaver about Aslan, the lion which represents God. “Is he – quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.” And Mr. Beaver says (Yes, I know, a talking beaver? Just bear with me…), “Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the king I tell you’.” God is good, and loving and merciful but He is also ‘King’ mighty, powerful and, above all, authoritative. When two authorities are telling us to do different things, we obey the one we ‘fear’ most and it is through obeying God above all else that knowledge, wisdom and blessings follow.

Jonathan

(This page was last updated on August 27th, 2016)