The Point of It All

21 04 2012

Quoting C.S. Lewis IS a most unyielding addiction! I cannot resist this lengthy quote since it deals with the heart, the living-center, of the purpose of the incarnation AND the Church. God did not create us for an eternity sub-human existence, torment or oblivion. We were made for a never-ending existence filled with the very life of the Trinity with us becoming ever more and more like God– especially Christ. As the Beloved Apostle declares it: “We are God’s children now [because of the work of THE Son of God], and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when He appears we shall be like Him….” (1 John 3:2).

Let these words challenge you and your church. Are you living a mere religious life, or a surrendered and transformed one? Is your church doing lots of stuff and programs that seem Godly, but failing to make disciples that, in a substantive way, look like Christ? Or is your church careful to align all its doings and programs with the goal of making little Christs? These questions must be wrestled with and answered honestly: What does it mean to be a Christian? What does it mean to be the Church?

And now, here’s C.S. Lewis saying it much better than I can (from Mere Christianity, Book IV, chp. 8, “Is Christianity Hard or Easy?”):

The terrible thing, the almost impossible thing, is to hand over your whole self–all your wishes and precautions–to Christ. But it is far easier than what we are all trying to do instead. For what we are trying to do is remain what we call “ourselves,” to keep personal happiness as our great aim in life, and yet at the same time be “good.” We are all trying to let our mind and heart go their own way–centered on money or pleasure or ambition–and hoping, in spite of this, to behave honestly and chastely and humbly. And that is exactly what Christ warned us you could not do. As He said, a thistle cannot produce wheat. Cutting the grass may keep it short: but I shall still produce grass and no wheat. If I want to produce wheat, the change must go deeper than the surface. I must be ploughed up and re-sown.

That is why the real problem of the Christian life comes where people do not usually look for it. It comes the very moment you wake up each morning. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in. And so on, all day. Standing back from all your natural fussings and frettings; coming in out of the wind.

We can only do it for moments at first. But from those moments the new sort of life will be spreading through our system: because now we are letting Him work at the right part of us. It is the difference between paint, which is merely laid on the surface, and a dye or stain which soaks right through. He never talked vague, idealistic gas. When he said, “Be perfect,” He meant it. He meant that we must go in for the full treatment. It is hard; but the sort of compromise we are all hankering after is harder–in fact, it is impossible. It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.

May I come back to what I said before? This is the whole of Christianity. There is nothing else. It is so easy to get muddled about that. It is easy to think that the Church has a lot of different objects–education, building, missions, holding services. Just as it is easy to think the State has a lot of different objects–military, political, economic, and what not. But in a way things are much simpler than that. The State exists simply to promote and to protect the ordinary happiness of human beings in this life. A husband and wife chatting over a fire, a couple of friends having a game of darts in a pub, a man reading a book in his own room or digging in his own garden–that is what the State is there for. And unless they are helping to increase and prolong and protect such moments, all the laws, parliaments, armies, courts, police, economics, etc., are simply a waste of time. In the same way the Church exists for nothing else but to draw men into Christ, to make them little Christs. If they are not doing that, all the cathedrals, clergy, missions, sermons, even the Bible itself, are simply a waste of time. God became man for no other purpose. It is even doubtful, you know, whether the whole universe was created for any other purpose.

(One thing to note is that the inner being of the purpose of Christ and the Church is to glorify the Father, but the way that is manifested is to do the work the Father is most interested in: the rescue, redemption, and metamorphosis of those created in His image; and secondly, the redemption of the whole created order which we have allowed to come under the dominion of the Evil One. I think Lewis does not here discuss the overriding purpose to glorify God because he takes it as a given.)

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One response

22 04 2012
robstroud

I’m addicted too. But I wouldn’t change if I could!

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