This post is a direct sequel to "The Neotenic Era." As with that post, if you're not a follower of Christ, you're welcome to read and comment as long as you do so respectfully, but I will be gate-keeping the conversation quite strictly for these posts.
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What then does a Christian self-identification look like?
While I cannot claim that this model or metaphor functions for all followers of Christ, I choose to self-identify as a prince of Narnia.
True, I have not been through the wardrobe nor seen “Aslan” with my waking eye, but neither have the neotenics seen the fulfillment of their vast constellation of identities. They must be content to compel others to act as if their impossible dreams have already come to life, without ever seeing this take place.
Unlike them, I have every confidence that I will someday see the true and better Narnia on the other side of the Sea of Glass. When I land at last on that shore, only then will I be in my own undying country. For now, I am a visitor in these shadowlands, a wanderer in a perishing world of perishing things.
Narnia is, of course, a fictional skein wrapped around a deeper truth. The reason the fictional Narnia is so compelling is that it looks just a little like another realm which, as a prince of Narnia, I will someday see - it reminds us a little of the home none of us alive have ever seen but we all ache for.
By now you’ve probably realized that Narnia is a metaphor for Heaven. At the end of C.S. Lewis’s Narnian writings and the end of Narnian history, when the imperfect, flawed Narnia at last came to an apocalyptic end, the characters found it perfected beyond Heaven’s gates. All princes and princesses of Narnia are promised a place there at the end of our sojourn in this sad, shadowy country called Earth.
Some may ask, if it is in my power to identify as a prince of Narnia, why not a king? That would be somewhat premature. I have not yet been crowned. There is a crown waiting, to be sure, but it waits on the far shore, and I will receive it only after I make my final journey to the West. There, before the Throne of God, in the presence of all those who have crossed before me, I will cast off any crowns and laurels placed on me in my petty princedom and receive my inheritance in the eternal kingdom. With that promise before me, why should a kingdom in this world hold any interest?
Even though it is a label anticipatory of the crowning to come, assuming the identity of a prince of Narnia has power here and now. A prince of Narnia is more than a conqueror, and no weapon formed against him shall stand. All things work together for his good, and he has vast treasures laid up where moth and rust cannot destroy and no thief can plunder. For the prince, everything is permissible, and everything is possible. Even death has no power over him. This identity is sufficient unto itself. It does not need other identities to be added to it. It accomplishes in truth what all the identities invented in the shadowlands promise, but none deliver.
Unlike those other identities, however, merely assuming the title is only the beginning. If we are to be princes and princess of Narnia, we must be so always. Like the heavy wooden beam of a cross, once taken up, this label cannot be set aside. As a prince of Narnia walking the shadowlands, I am, whether I like it or not, an ambassador of Narnia – not the one you can read about in a book, but the truer, better Narnia, the heavenly kingdom that awaits beyond the veil.
I know that I am not capable of living up to the princely responsibility fully, nor have I earned it by my actions or personal merits. Even if I were to try, I could not do so. Only because this title was offered to me freely can I choose to identify as a prince. Knowing that I am not worthy of what has been given me makes my princedom a source of humility, not one of overweening pride.
In this dark age of assumed identities, we need not walk in fear and isolation. We are, as heirs of the eternal kingdom, among the most dangerous creatures to have ever trodden the gray earth of the world of shadows. The pages of history are filled with proof enough of what we can do through Christ who strengthens us, and the Enemy is right to fear our potential.
We need not fear the neotenics, nor any power of this world – the most the shadows can do is expel Heaven’s ambassadors and send us home. Even if they don’t, someday this long dream will end for each of us, and the bright morning will dawn. Someday we will all exit the pages of the great tragedy of history. We will begin to live out Chapter One of the Great Story no-one on Earth have ever read, a chapter which opens with a familiar voice welcoming us home: "My son, you've finally arrived! Come further up, come further in!"