Saturday, August 4, 2012

A nugget from C.S. Lewis

A two hour flight is a great time to do some reading. Today, for the first time, I read C.S. Lewis' famous sermon/essay The Weight of Glory. I love C.S. Lewis; he is one of the great writers of the past 200 years, and probably in history. But I had never read this relatively short work. I encourage you to read it - if you want to, a copy is in the link above.

The whole essay is awesome. But there was one thing he said toward the end that I wanted to share. The context is this: he is talking about the eternal nature of God's highest creation on earth, human beings. Beings created in his image for his glory, and who are destined to one of two destinies: to be exalted to reign with God forever, or to be excluded from his notice forever. He is making the point that everyone we meet - prince or pauper, rich or poor, funny or dull, and so on - is that important. And so we should take that responsibility seriously, recognize the incredible worth of every person we meet, and remember what's a stake in our relationships.

This is, as he calls it, the "weight" of glory. How imposing is that?! Talk about pressure. And if he had stopped there, what a solemn message it would have been.

But he doesn't. And in that context, here is the quote I wanted to share:
There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal...(I)t is immortals we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit - immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. This does not mean we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of the kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously - no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption. And our charity must be a real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner - no mere tolerance, or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment.
This is a profound, concentrated statement of so much Biblical truth. So much so that I had to read it a few times for it to sink in. (You may want to do the same.) Of course, I expect nothing less from Lewis.   These words, spoken first in June of 1941, ring down through the decades and challenge me as a Christ follower. If I am to be part of spreading God's kingdom, I must do so with a daily knowledge of how important people are. They were created for eternity. And my love must be costly, not self-serving. And real, not a parody.

And that is God's model for his people. May I never forget it.

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