Most people have either read the book itself or seen the film connected to it, of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. Less well known is a book later in the same series called The Voyage of The Dawn Treader.
In that book Lewis introduces us to Eustace who is what we call in the UK, a brat, a thoroughly unpleasant a little boy. This is a child in need of a character makeover. Eustace is a passenger on the Dawn Treader . He is nasty, complaining, and generally obnoxious. Not unnaturally he manages to alienate his fellow travelers. When the ship docks on an island, the rest of the passengers head out to explore, leaving Eustace on his own. He soon comes face to face with a frightful, fire-breathing dragon. Much to Eustace’s relief the dragon expires right in front of him. Yet after a dream-filled night Eustace awakes to find that he has in fact become a green, scaly dragon. This is Lewis’ way of saying that he has become on the outside what he is on the inside. Eustace breaks into tears realizing the meaning of what has happened. He is in despair about how he can he rid himself of the prison of this green, scaly skin?
That night in his dreams he is approached by Aslan the lion and the Christ figure in the story. Aslan takes Eustace to a bubbling well, shaped like a round bath with marble stairs descending into it. The water is deliciously inviting, but Alsan says that before Eustace can get into the water he must undress first. Eustace knows that this means he is to shed his skin. He strips off the skin as if peeling a banana. He steps out of the skin and goes over to the water’s edge, only to see that his reflection still shows the same scaly hard skin. Two more times he attempts to remove this unwelcome outer skin with the same results. Eustace discovers no matter how many or serious his attempts to change, he simply cannot change his harsh and hard outward skin
Then Aslan says, “You will have to let me undress you.” Even though Eustace is afraid of Aslan’s claws, he is desperate now. Eustace lies on his back and allows Aslan to begin, “The very first tear was so deep that I thought he had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling that stuff peel off. After he peeled off the skin, I was a smooth and soft as a peeled switch. He caught hold of me and threw me into the water. At first it smarted, but then it became perfectly delicious. I’d turned into a boy again. After a bit the Lion took me out of the water and dressed me. New clothes and all.”
Of course we realise reading this story that it is a sort of parable of some realities of human and Christian experience. We do indeed become outwardly what we are inwardly. Jesus often spoke about this about, how its what comes from our heart that represents our true self and this is expressed in our behaviour and words. On Sunday we thought about how the character makeover that Eustace needed is what the Fruit of the Spirit is all about. The fruit of the Spirit if you remember is about being before doing. Its about becoming the type of person who is becoming more like Jesus and so is more “ loving, “joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle and self-controlled” Just like Eustace we have realise that this is something we cannot do ourselves, it’s the FRUIT OF the Spirit, it’s the work of Christ through His Spirit in our heart and character. Also just like Eustace we will find at times this can be a painful process. It can be difficult to change and some changes are so deep they hurt.
Yet Eustace says he became a boy again, Aslan restored him to what he was always intended to be. That is what happens as we allow the Spirit to grow His fruit in our lives, we are being restored to who we were always meant to be, we rediscover our real selves. So let’s open ourselves up to Aslan’s soul surgery