Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Is Christianity Hard or Easy?—Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

"Putting on Christ, or first 'dressing up' as a son of God," the subject C.S Lewis addressed in his previous chapter on Divine Make-believe, "that you may finally become a real son ... is not a ... special exercise for the top class. It is the whole of Christianity. Christianity offers nothing else at all.... It differs from ordinary ideas of 'morality' and 'being good'.... We take as a starting point our ordinary self with its various desires and interests. We then admit that something elsecall it 'morality' or 'decent behavior' ... has claims on this self.... We are very like an honest man paying his taxes. He pays them all right, but he does hope that there will be enough left over for him to live on."

"The more you obey your conscience, the more your conscience will demand of you. and your natural self, which is thus being starved and hampered and worried at every turn, will get angrier and angrier. In the end, you will either give up trying to be good, or else become one of those people who...'live for others' but in a discontented, grumbling way.... The Christian way is different: harder, and easier. Christ says 'Give me All.... I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half-measures are any good.... Hand over the whole natural self.... I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you Myself: My own will shall become yours.'"

"Christ Himself sometimes describes the Christian way as very hard, sometimes as very easy. He says, 'Take up your Cross'.... Next minute He says, 'My yoke is easy and my burden is light.' He means both.... In a battle, or in mountain climbing, there is often one thing that it takes a lot of [courage] to do; but it is also, in the long run, the safest thing to do. If you [chicken out], you will find yourself, hours later, in far worse danger.... It is like that here. The terrible thing, the almost impossible thing, is to hand over your whole selfall your wishes and precautionsto Christ. But it is far easier than ... trying to let our mind and heart go their own waycentered on money or pleasure or ambitionand 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 figs. If I am a field that contains nothing but grass-seed, I 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 plowed up and re-sown.

"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.... The new sort of life will be spreading ... because now we are letting Him work at the right part of us.... When He said, 'Be perfect,' He meant it. He meant that we must go in for the full treatment.... 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."

"It is easy to think that the Church has a lot of different objectseducation, building, missions, holding services. Just as it is easy to think that the State has a lot of different objectsmilitary, political, economic, and whatnot. 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 gardenthis 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 ... are simply a waste of time. God became Man for no other purpose.... It says in the Bible that the whole universe was made for Christ and that everything is to be gathered together in Him.... We men can be drawn into Christcan become part of that wonderful present which the young Prince of the universe wants to offer His Father.... It is the only thing we were made for."

Highlights from Chapter 8: Is Christianity Hard or Easy? in Book 4: Beyond Personality, or First Steps in the Doctrine of the Trinity in Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. Click here for a clear view of how this chapter relates to the whole book.

No comments:

Post a Comment