C.S. Lewis often taught that the world in which live is a ‘shadowland’, because it is only a shadow of what is to come. When I consider this photograph it makes me think of Lewis’ notion. Continue reading
“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: Pain is God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” – The Problem of Pain
“Papa does God hear me when I pray?” The little boy jumped into his bed, dirty socks drooping off of each foot. His Dad, a construction worker, tired from a hard day’s work, went into the bathroom and poured the boy a glass of water.
“Yeah, he hears you.”
“But how do you know he hears me?”
“Cause I just know.”
“Yeah, but can he see me too?”
“Yeah, he can see you.”
“But how do you know? Can you see God?”
“No, I can’t see him? Don’t be silly.”
“Then, how do you know he can see us?”
“Well,” said the Dad, just cause we can’t see him, that don’t mean he can’t see us.”
“But how do you know?”
“Cause I just know that’s all”. The boy’s big Dad grabbed hold of his droopy socks and playfully pulled them off his feet.
Once upon a time…far, far away, there existed a kingdom without a King, where everyone was safe. In this Land of Safe, no one ever grew sick or ill. And no one ever died. The people were never hungry, never desperate, never thirsty, never sad. In this Land of Safe, always beautiful, never ugly; always full, never empty, the lonely people lived – Safe from the pain of war; Safe from the pain of anger; Safe from the pain of loss…Safe from the pain of love.
For in its essence, the idolatry of safety is nothing more than the desire to be free from the suffering of love. And so this land – safe, secure, happy, and comfortable – was a land without the dangers of compassion. The people all understood that hiding was the only way to be truly safe and so safety stayed in fashion. They were kind but never close. They were nice but never near. During the day they encased themselves in cubicles. At night they locked their doors and hid inside their fear. When they traveled, they sealed themselves inside moving metal boxes. They talked to one another, but only through machines. They worked safe jobs. Washed in safe bathrooms. Kept their money in safe banks. They Hid inside safe houses, that were built inside safe walls, surrounded by safe fences, and locked inside safe gates. Marriage? Far too dangerous; Babies? Much too perilous; Families? Way too hazardous…inside the Land of Safe.
“How difficult it is to avoid having a special standard for oneself.” – C.S. Lewis, Letters to an American Lady, p. 58
I tend to view myself as a ‘specialme’. When I’m standing in line at the grocery store, with 20 people in front of me, somehow I feel like I am the one person who is so special, that I should be allowed to go to the front of the line. When I do something wrong – like losing my temper or gossiping or building myself up while tearing someone else down, or when I kill someone and bury them in my backyard – I feel like I’m justified because I am a ‘specialme’. Now, if someone else kills a person and buries them in their back yard…well, that’s just wrong. No question about it. But me? Hey, I have my reasons, doggone it. If I want to kill people – if I want to be a cannibal – then it is my right. Me and Hannibal Lecter are in a different category. Don’t hate us just because we like to eat people.
“Really great moral teachers never do introduce new moralities: it is quacks and cranks who do that… The real job of every moral teacher is to keep on bringing us back, time after time, to the old simple principles which we are all so anxious not to see.”
When you think about it, teaching truth really is a thankless job. The picture is much like the mother who stands over her child with a spoonful of cough syrup, urging her to open her mouth. This is because truth usually goes down hard. Yet, if the mother is good and true and loving, she will not back down from her call to care for her little one.
Truth is not sexy or fun or new or original. Truth is old. And even when we have not heard it before, when truth first comes to us as a new thought, or when it seems novel because it is novel to us, even then, we often find that truth has the ring of something old, something that has been taught a thousand times before, something that has risen from antiquity and dusted itself off before us. When we hear truth, we get the sense that we should know this already, or that we have known it and simply allowed ourselves to forget.
“In a circle of true Friends each man is simply what he is: stands for nothing but himself. No one cares twopence about any one else’s family, profession, class, income, race, or previous history…That is the kingliness of Friendship. We meet like sovereign princes of independent states, abroad, on neutral ground, freed from our contexts.” – C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves
How many friends do you have? How do you know when you have a friend? Sometimes it’s hard to discern. Adam and Eve, just after they’d sinned, did a particularly odd thing. They hid. They sewed together fig leaves and hid themselves. Odd. But, not really surprising. We do the same thing don’t we? In an independent, self-actualizing, wealthy (yes, we are still wealthy!), society like ours, most people live strangely private and pretentious lives.
In my former post “C.S. Lewis and a theology of Christian Hope“, I had a pretty good comment exchange with my good friend DonBob. DB’s prodding helped me to develop some further thoughts along these lines that I felt were worth posting.
One of my primary intentions here at Sacrosanct Gospel is to attempt to clear away thoughts and ideas that often cloud or adulterate the Gospel of Jesus. I don’t suppose for a moment that I have a corner on this market so I look to friends, authors, thinkers, and theologians to help me along the road. John Piper, Tim Keller, Eugene Peterson and Mark Driscoll are some of my biggest allies in this regard. I also read a few dead guys like Edwards, Calvin, and Lewis. However, as I observe our modern evangelical cultural trends, it seems that some of those who currently defend the Gospel most heartily – namely Piper, Driscoll, and Macarthur – often get a little too zealous in their collective emphasis on missiology.