C.S. Lewis Speaks to Small Groups

There is an overlooked insight into Small Groups that Clive desperately wants us to get.

The Chronicles of Narnia have sold over 100 million copies in 47 different languages, The three movies released by Disney have grossed over half a billion dollars. So yes, I’m going to assume that you know something about it.

And by a wide margin, The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe is the most popular of the seven novels. When you watch or read this story, I bet you do what the rest of us do. You pick a character that you most identify with. Or, should I say, which character you most want to be like.

No matter if you’re male or female, young or old, many of us want to be Lucy. She’s the most optimistic, cheerful, kind, and brave. For most of the story, she’s the main character until Aslan arrives on the scene. She’s the one who first discovers Narnia. She’s more loving and sensitive towards Aslan. She’s the most spiritually mature of the four Pevensie children.

Isn’t that who you want to be? The spiritually sensitive and senior in your part of God’s family. The one who immediately responds to God’s voice. God’s call. God’s command. After all, isn’t that why you’re involved with Small Group Network and the Small Groups within your community?

And then there’s Susan. The one who’s always sticking her nose into everybody else’s business. Mothering and smothering them. She’s totally insensitive to everyone. She’s the most cautious, the least adventurous. She’s very apprehensive about the unknown. She’s concerned with her own comfort and shows her selfishness, especially toward Lucy.

Lucy, Susan, and Small Groups

As you reach out and connect with people about Small Groups, you quickly discern if they are a Lucy or a Susan. Between Lucy and Susan, it’s a slam dunk to choose Lucy. Isn’t Lucy the one that you want in your Small Group? You pray to God for more and more people like Lucy while ignoring people like Susan. You quickly return any and all communications from Lucy types while giving low priority to people like Susan.

Of course, Lucy’s the one we’re immediately drawn to when it comes to finding and developing Small Groups. It’s easier to talk with the Lucy kind of people. Their heart’s softer towards the things of God. They respond with kindness and warmth to our emails. Their encouragement fires us up with energy and enthusiasm.

But the Susans we connect with do just the opposite. They seem to drag us down. They exhaust us. They get excited and then, nothing but crickets rubbing their legs together. They don’t return our communications. They are frustrating as they seem to do nothing but waste our precious time and energy.

Yes, we all want Lucy’s in our Small Groups. On our team. On our side. We want to be close to the Lucy’s in life. But is that who Aslan wants us to be closest to? Does God want us to spend more time reaching out to the Lucy’s of the world? Or the Susan’s?

And Now, A Word from Our Sponsor

Here’s where CS Lewis steps in to rock our world. After Aslan’s resurrection, he speaks to both girls about their need to help those in trouble. His words of instruction have something to say to us about Small Groups and the Susan’s in our world. And about the Lucy’s too.

“And now,” said Aslan presently, “to business.”

“We have a long journey to go. You must ride on me.” And he crouched down and the children climbed on to his warm, golden back, and Susan sat first, holding on tightly to his mane and Lucy sat behind holding on tightly to Susan. And with a great heave he rose underneath them and then shot off, faster than any horse could go, down hill and into the thick of the forest[1].

The important question is, who does Aslan let onto his back first? Who’s right next to the King? Who’s closest? Who has the privilege of holding onto his golden mane?

Susan. Yes, Susan. Of all people, Susan. Susan the less spiritual. Susan the selfish. Susan the obtuse.

And where does that put Lucy? Behind Susan. But it gets worse. Lucy can’t touch or hold onto Aslan, so she’s forced to hold onto Susan.

Don’t feel bad if you missed this. You’re not alone. I’ve lost count at the number of times that I overlooked it. Almost every painting, illustration, and movie also misses it. And just in case you think I’ve lost my mind, check out this video from the recent Walt Disney version[2]and see who’s put on Aslan’s back first.

If I was Lucy, I’d get upset and start pouting about Susan getting preferential treatment over me. Why did she get the upgrade to First Class? She didn’t even call out “Shotgun” to get dibs on the front seat.

Then I’d start pummeling Aslan with questions. “Hey Aslan, what gives? I’ve been closer to you for a long while. Don’t I deserve to be right next to you? Haven’t I earned the right to be upfront? Hasn’t my devotion meant anything to you? And I bet my faithful, Small Group attendance is a whole lot more than hers.”

Assigned Seating

But this is exactly where Aslan wants both Susan and Lucy. He wants to draw Susan close to himself. And he needs Lucy behind her. Supporting her. Encouraging her.

I’m sure Lucy had many second thoughts about Susan. I bet she wanted to hold onto Aslan’s golden mane herself. But you have to give this to Lucy: she obeyed and followed Aslan’s word. Lucy even put her arms around Susan. Holding onto Susan as the three of them launched off to save Narnia.

Could that be where God wants you with your Small Group? He wants to bring the Susan’s of your Small Groups closer to Himself. And part of His plan is to use you in their spiritual journey. To guide them. To encourage them. To support them. To be beside them. To hang onto them.

You see, Small Groups are a two-way street. Yes, you’re looking to receive friendship and encouragement. But God is looking for the Susan’s to receive Himself. And you’re part of His plan for them.

We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.

Romans 15:1, NIV

Could you be the voice, the hands, the feet of God to bring the Susan’s of this world to Himself?

Clive would say yes. And so do I.

——–

Chet Gladkowski communicates the Good News of Jesus through books, in person, and digital forms that can be found at www.ChetGlad.org. His most recent endeavors are daily devotionals through the Gospel of Mark and the Epistle to the Ephesians. Both are available at www.MarkThisYear.com.


[1] The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, page 87, first published in 1950 by Geoffrey Bles, illustrated by Pauline Baynes

[2] https://youtu.be/WsOBsj8g6Dw?t=129

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