Like many young Christian men reading The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis, I used to wonder about Emeth the Calormene. You know the one. He was the Tash-worshipper who went through the stable door and was accepted by Aslan. Aslan makes it plain that he and the false god Tash have nothing in common. “We are opposites.” Yet Aslan accepted Emeth’s service because “no service which is vile can be done to me and none which is not vile can be done to him.”
This is pretty mind-blowing stuff when you’re a teenager who thinks anyone who doesn’t go to your particular kind of church is deceived and in danger of hell-fire!
But reading this again as a middle-aged man what struck me most was not Aslan’s inclusiveness, but the name he gave to Emeth. This also had a deep effect on the man himself, for he says:
Then he breathed upon me and took away the trembling from my limbs and caused me to stand upon my feet. And after that, he said not much, but that we should meet again, and I must go further up and further in. Then he turned him about in a storm and flurry of gold and was gone suddenly.
And since then, O Kings and Ladies, I have been wandering to find him and my happiness is so great it even weakens me like a wound. And this is the marvel of marvels, that he called me Beloved, me who am but a dog – (p.155)
Do you know that God calls us Beloved too? At the River Jordan the Voice from Heaven said of Jesus,
This is my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. (Mt 3:17, KJV)
Ephesians 1:6 tells us that God has accepted us “in the Beloved” (KJV). This means that God relates to us in the same way that He relates to Jesus. He accepts us, is well pleased with us, and He calls us His beloved sons.
Joseph Prince writes about this in his book, Destined to Reign. He notes that in Matthew 3 God says of Jesus, “this is my beloved Son,” but in Matthew 4 the devil says, “If you are the Son of God…” The devil did not remind Jesus that He was the beloved Son of God and neither does he remind us. The devil doesn’t want us to know what God thinks of us because once you know you are beloved, says Prince, everything changes. We rise up against the enemy’s temptations and we stand secure in our God-given identity.
Beloved, there is nothing you can do today to make God love you more, and there’s nothing you can do to make Him love you any less… Beloved, it’s not enough that you know that God loves everyone. You need to know and believe that He loves you, and let that revelation burn in your heart, especially when you fail. (Destined to Reign, pp.300-1)
It is such an awesome privilege to be adopted as a son of God (Gal 3:26). But we are more than sons; we are His beloved sons.
Lewis was onto something here. He knew that when we apprehend the divine audacity of God calling us Beloved, our joy is so overwhelming that it weakens us like a wound. And knowing that we are His Beloved, it is the easiest thing to turn our backs on the world and set out to find Him and to be where He is.