Getting Real?

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But that is not the way you learned Christ!—assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.’ 
Ephesians 4: 20-23 ESV

We inevitably resemble our parents when we are born, and will become more like them (not merely in appearance) as we grow, living with them, under their influence, day by day; that potential is in us and is largely irresistible. How much more then, at our new birth, by grace through faith, having received the Spirit of Christ, do we hold in these ‘clay pots’ the real potential to be like Him; to express His real Nature in our own bodies. This second of three brief posts on the theme of helpful pretending also comes from C. S. Lewis….

C. S. Lewis wrote: “You see what is happening. The Christ Himself, the Son of God who is man (just like you) and God (just like His Father) is actually at your side and is already at that moment beginning to turn your pretence into a reality. This is not merely a fancy way of saying that your conscience is telling you what to do. If you simply ask your conscience, you get one result; if you remember that you are dressing up as Christ, you get a different one.

“There are lots of things which your conscience might not call definitely wrong (specially things in your mind) but which you will see at once you cannot go on doing if you are seriously trying to be like Christ. For you are no longer thinking simply about right and wrong, you are trying to catch the good infection from a person. It is more like painting a portrait than like obeying a set of rules. And the odd thing is that while in one way it is much harder than keeping rules, in another way it is far easier.

“The real Son of God is at your side. He is beginning to turn you into the same kind of thing as Himself. He is beginning, so to speak, to ‘inject’ His kind of life and thought, His Zoe, into you; beginning to turn the tin soldier into a live man. The part of you that does not like it is the part that is still tin.”

From C. S. Lewis in Mere Christianity

26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. Galatians 3:26-27 ESV

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As if?

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A friend, a Christian doctor, recalled how, as a young resident in a regional hospital, he found himself at times the sole ‘doctor’ on duty. At such times he found it helpful, he told me, to act ‘as if’ he were already the doctor that he hoped he would one day become in reality. It worked for him. This first of three brief posts on the theme of helpful pretending comes from C. S. Lewis….

C. S. Lewis wrote: “Very often the only way to get a quality in reality is to start behaving as if you had it already. That is why children’s games are so important. They are always pretending to be grown-ups – playing soldiers, playing shop. But all the time, they are hardening their muscles and sharpening their wits so that the pretence of being grown-up helps them to grow up in earnest.

“Now, the moment you realise ‘Here I am, dressing up as Christ,’ it is extremely likely that you will see at once some way in which at that very moment the pretence could be made less of a pretence and more of a reality. You will find several things going on in your mind which would not be going on there if you really were a son of God. Well, stop them. Or you may realise that, instead of saying your prayers, you ought to be downstairs writing a letter, or helping your wife to wash up. Well, go and do it.”

From C. S. Lewis in Mere Christianity

And now for Something Completely Different…

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We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death,
in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead
by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
Romans 6:4 ESV

If we come to Christ expecting ‘just a new beginning’, ‘a fresh start’, ‘a second chance at life’, we are in for a surprise; perhaps even a shock. God is not the author of new beginnings only, but of new lives, entire and eternal; and He will not let us settle for less when Christ has died to give us so much more. This final brief post on the Resurrection of Jesus also comes from C. S. Lewis.

C. S. Lewis wrote: “… there is not in Scripture the faintest suggestion that the Resurrection was a new evidence for something that had in fact been always happening. The New Testament writers speak as if Christ’s achievement in rising from the dead was the first event of its kind in the whole history of the universe. He is the ‘first fruits’, the ‘pioneer of life’. He has forced open a door that has been locked since the death of the first man. He has met, fought, and beaten the King of Death. Everything is different because He has done so. This is the beginning of the New Creation: a new chapter in cosmic history has opened.”
From C. S. Lewis in Miracles.

Looking for a Miracle?

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Many who reject Christ seem still to hanker for the miraculous, or what they call the ‘spiritual’ in their lives, and complain when God does not dance to their tune (Matthew 11:16-17). Rejecting the great miracle at the heart of Christianity, they look for satisfaction elsewhere; an ultimately hopeless journey. This first of three brief posts on the Resurrection of Jesus comes from C. S. Lewis…

C. S. Lewis wrote: “In the earliest days of Christianity an ‘apostle’ was first and foremost a man who claimed to be an eyewitness of the Resurrection….. As this qualification suggests, to preach Christianity meant primarily to preach the Resurrection. …. The Resurrection is the central theme in every Christian sermon reported in the Acts. The Resurrection, and its consequences, were the ‘gospel’ or good news which the Christians brought: what we call the ‘gospels’, the narratives of Our Lord’s life and death, were composed later for the benefit of those who had already accepted the gospel. They were in no sense the basis of Christianity: they were written for those already converted. The miracle of the Resurrection, and the theology of that miracle, comes first: the biography comes later as a comment on it. …. The first fact in the history of Christendom is a number of people who say they have seen the Resurrection. If they had died without making anyone else believe this ‘gospel’ no gospels would ever have been written.

From C. S. Lewis in Miracles.

We are not alone…

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The tower of Babel (Genesis 11) was mankind’s attempt to build a society that symbolically reached into the heavens. All our subsequent efforts to build apart from God have also failed. When mankind rejected God we found ourselves alone in the universe. What a tragedy if, in fact, God created the universe for us alone? This final brief post on the theme of A Christian society also comes from C.S. Lewis…

C. S. Lewis wrote: “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, economists, 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.”

From C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity.

The long way around?

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And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.
Luke 6:31 ESV

Each Thursday morning I meet with several (other) grumpy old men for coffee. We rarely agree together on anything. We are not all Christians. Would it guarantee our agreement if we were? We can’t even agree on the best temperature for our coffee to be served at. So how may we expect to agree on the ideal for society, Christian or otherwise? This second of three brief posts on the theme of A Christian society also comes from C.S. Lewis…

C. S. Lewis wrote: “Most of us are not really approaching the subject in order to find out what Christianity says: we are approaching it in the hope of finding support from Christianity for the views of our own party. We are looking for an ally where we are offered either a Master or – a Judge.

“ … And that is why nothing whatever is going to come of such talks unless we go a much longer way round. A Christian society is not going to arrive until most of us really want it: and we are not going to want it until we become fully Christian.

“I may repeat, ‘do as you would be done by’ till I am blue in the face, but I cannot really carry it out till I love my neighbour as myself: and I cannot learn to love my neighbour as myself till I learn to love God: and I cannot learn to love God except by learning to obey Him.

“And so, as I warned you, we are driven on to something more inward – driven on from social matters to religious matters. For the longest way round is the shortest way home.”

From C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity.

If I ruled the world?

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In those days there was no king in Israel.
Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
Judges 21:25 ESV

 

Winston Churchill said, “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.” Well, maybe. But is even the best democracy the best we can aspire to in this world? Might not Christians hold onto hopes for a society, this side of Heaven’s perfect City of God, where standards of what is ‘right’ may not only be agreed upon but also followed; and what might such a Christian society look like? This first of three brief posts on the theme of A Christian society comes from C.S. Lewis…

C.S.Lewis wrote: “The New Testament, without going into details, gives us a pretty clear hint of what a fully Christian society would be like. Perhaps it gives us more than we can take. It tells us that there are to be no passengers or parasites: if man does not work, he ought not to eat. Everyone is to work with his own hands, and what is more, every one’s work is to produce something good: there will be no manufacture of silly luxuries and then of sillier advertisements to persuade us to buy them. … To that extent a Christian society would be what we now call Leftist. On the other hand, the New Testament is always insisting on obedience obedience (and outward marks of respect) from all of us to properly appointed magistrates, from children to parents, and (I am afraid this is going to be very unpopular) from wives to husbands. Thirdly, it is to be a cheerful society: full of singing and rejoicing, and regarding worry and anxiety as wrong. Courtesy is one of the Christian virtues; and the New Testament hates what it calls ‘busybodies’.

“If there were such a society in existence and your or I visited it, I think we would come away with a curious impression. We would feel that its economic life was very socialistic and, in that sense, ‘advanced’, but that its family life and its code of manners were rather old fashioned – perhaps even ceremonious and aristocratic. Each of us would like some bits of it, but I am afraid very few of us would like the whole thing.

“That is just what one would expect if Christianity is the total plan for the human machine. We have all departed from that total plan in different ways, and each of us wants to make out that his own modification of the original plan is the plan itself. You will find this again and again about anything that is really Christian: everyone is attracted by bits of it and wants to pick out those bits and leave the rest.

From C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity.