Got the fidgets?

Lewis Letters Whatever value there is in introspection (I am sure there is some) it is probably least helpful when, embarrassed yet again by our sins, we begin sincerely to search ourselves for any signs of growth in discipleship at all; growth in Christ comes from looking at Him, not ourselves.

This third and final brief post on the theme of Christ in us also comes from C. S. Lewis.

From a letter written to Keith Manship: On the slow process of being more in Christ; and on doing one’s duty, especially the duty to enjoy. 13 September 1962

‘You state the problem very clearly, and the fact that you can do so really shows that you are very much on the right road. Many don’t even get so far. The whole problem of our life was neatly expressed by John the Baptist when he said ‘He must increase, but I must decrease.’ This you have realised. But you are expecting it to happen suddenly: and also expecting that you should be clearly aware when it does. But neither of these is usual. We are doing well enough if the slow process of being more in Christ and less in ourselves has made a decent beginning in a long life (it will be completed only in the next world). Nor can we observe it happening. All our reports on ourselves are unbelievable, even in worldly matters (no one really hears his own voice as others do, or sees his own face). Much more in spiritual matters. God sees us, and we don’t see ourselves. And by trying too hard to do so, we only get the fidgets and become either too complacent or too much the other way.

Your question what to do is already answered. Go on (as you apparently are going on) doing all your duties. And, in all lawful ways, go on enjoying all that can be enjoyed: your friends, your music, your books. Remember we are told to ‘rejoice’. Sometimes when you are wondering what God wants you to do, He really wants to give you something. As to your spiritual state, try my plan. I pray ‘Lord, show me just so much (neither more nor less) about myself as I need for doing thy will now.’

From The Collected Letters of C.S.Lewis, Volume III


I must decrease….

Weight of Glory

John the Baptist said his joy was complete having seen and heard Jesus, yet added, ‘He must increase, but I must decrease’ and that is no less our experience as Jesus’ disciples now. This second brief post on the theme of ‘Christ in us’ also comes from C.S.Lewis.

‘For it is not so much of our time and so much of our attention that God demands; it is not even all our time and all our attention; it is ourselves. For each of us the Baptist’s words are true: “He must increase and I decrease.” He will be infinitely merciful to our repeated failures; I know no promise that He will accept a deliberate compromise.’

‘For He has, in the last resort, nothing to give us but Himself; and He can give that only insofar as our self-affirming will retires and makes room for Him in our souls. Let us make up our minds to it; there will be nothing “of our own” left over to live on, no “ordinary” life. I do not mean that each of us will necessarily be called to be a martyr or even an ascetic. That’s as may be. For some (nobody knows which) the Christian life will include much leisure, many occupations we naturally like. But these will be received from God’s hands. In a perfect Christian they would be as much part of his “religion,” his “service,” as his hardest duties, and his feasts would be as Christian as his fasts.
What cannot be admitted—what must exist only as an undefeated but daily resisted enemy—is the idea of something that is “our own,” some area in which we are to be “out of school,” on which God has no claim. For He claims all, because He is love and must bless. He cannot bless us unless He has us. When we try to keep within us an area that is our own, we try to keep an area of death. Therefore, in love, He claims all. There’s no bargaining with Him.’

From The Weight of Glory by C.S.Lewis

An inside job?

Mere cover
None of us in the beginning can really understand. Perhaps Jesus’ first disciples were best placed to. Drawn to him and kept by him they went with him until, years later, they knew him, well enough at least, that the prospect of being without him shook their faith. But, later still, perhaps that meant they  could know best the truth that Christ in them was more, not less, than Christ with them. This first of three short posts on the theme of ‘Christ in us’ comes from C.S. Lewis…

‘And now we begin to see what it is that the New Testament is always talking about. It talks about Christians ‘being born again’; it talks about them ‘putting on Christ’; about Christ ‘being formed in us’; about our coming to ‘have the mind of Christ’.
Put right out of your head the idea that these are only fancy ways of saying that Christians are to read what Christ said and try to carry it out—as a man may read what Plato or Marx said and try to carry it out. They mean something much more than that. They mean that a real Person, Christ, here and now, in that very room where you are saying your prayers, is doing things to you. It is not a question of a good man who died two thousand years ago. It is a living Man, still as much a man as you, and still as much God as He was when He created the world, really coming and interfering with your very self; killing the old natural self in you and replacing it with the kind of self He has. At first, only for moments. Then for longer periods. Finally, if all goes well, turning you permanently into a different sort of thing; into a new little Christ, a being which, in its own small way, has the same kind of life as God; which shares in His power, joy, knowledge and eternity.’

From Mere Christianity by C.S.Lewis