Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Mere Christianity; A Summary, Commentary, Whatever

All the staples are present: Christianity is a task to be completed by Christ, not sinners; Christianity is not a membership but the process by which men and women are rendered into Christ, literally "into Him" and Christ dwelling in them. Everyone read this book, but it certainly doesn't--nor could it--serve as a substitute for Scripture.

This oddly titled post was not intended to be a book review, so I'll be something of a jerk and not complete said review. What I truly wanted to accomplish was a bit of discussion concerning something that Lewis did a fantastic job explaining for me. I would like to keep your attention for this part, not because I am a great mind sharing something I have discovered but because I am someone who has just read a very insightful book--though I did recently experience a lot of what Lewis describes.

Further to the point, I should like to focus here on the process I mentioned above, being turned into Jesus Christ. Much as I hate to bear bad news, I hate even more to share in its experience: maybe it was just me who was so naive. Maybe you all looked at me and thought, "He must know. Everyone knows." But I think this point will be lost on many, if not all of us at one point. This is a hard, hard process. I want to use stronger words but the situation is so absurd that I fall back on a common descriptor because we have nothing in human terms that could possibly explain how utterly impossible it is for us to achieve eternal life. We can allow it to be done in us because we have such a loving Saviour, but we cannot, by our own mustard, accomplish a singular thing. Our nature is to be a race of abhorrent antichrists. (Why on earth would God have had to flood the whole thing unless it was the nature of humanity to be utterly repulsive in His sight? We turn on the news and are disgusted to hear about rapists and murderers and tragedy; I believe God was looking down upon a culture of it. Sin should yield death; don't curse Him for being a righteous Judge!!)

But here's the problem, and it is not the least bit comforting. We can each imagine, to one's personal capacity, what this means: "dying to self." The people in this world who would identify themselves as happy would likely never have considered this. The people who are discouraged are trying to do it themselves. (I am speaking here in Christian terms, not meaning the kind of discouragement that comes from extreme poverty or any such existence, though I would like to speak about these people afterward.) The people who transcend happiness or discouragement are the ones who are doing it correctly, and I highly doubt that anyone yet alive in a physical sense could achieve that. But One did. He lived and never sinned and offered Himself to God Almighty as a worthy sacrifice on behalf of the lost sheep. God, in accordance with His Perfect Law, deemed this a fair exchange: Christ's life and blood in exchange for the wrath God intended for humanity. It would have happened again but for His forbearance (Romans 3:25). (I would also mention His covenant with Noah, but Revelation indicates that God will not break that one. Though I would also think that those who endure the tribulation would exchange its events and plagues for a surge of water instead.) That is the Man and Lord into whom we are being rendered. I have reason to believe that I was recently subject to some profound contact with God, and I am not suggesting I would have been remotely near the end of my journey into that state, but I think it would have been significantly stronger than I was before the blessing. But I balked at it. I completely rejected it when it started a couple weeks ago. And then last week I found myself reading about it in Lewis's book. And if this helps anyone, ever, I feel obliged to share it. But understand something here, because some of you have never considered trying this and some of you have given up on it or are, like me, incredibly discouraged. Some important points to understand. These are universal.

1. You must take up Christ's suffering, not just His life. This will absolutely make you question whether you want to do it. The best of us will choose to keep going. I am praying for another chance to be unraveled, and I am praying I remember these past couple weeks when it happens. I should like to choose the painful path next time, not the one of self-medication and flesh indulgence.

2. It is our nature to say No. That is the normal and logical choice. Many of us have been greatly seduced by the illusion, not reality, that is this world. There is another one around us that is eternal, wherein good and evil battle as visibly as your hand appears when you hold it before your eyes. No human ever reached out to God. Although we are so perverted and buried in sin, God transcends it. It's easy to ignore, so be careful. But God does call out to everyone. And it won't make sense at first. You may even feel like God has abandoned you, but what He has truly asked you to do is let go of another, deeper part of yourself. What you may not understand, and what I didn't until recently, is that He is going replace that piece of you with the corresponding one in Christ. You will receive more than a lion's share of what you give up, because you will have the equivalent portion of Christ. In you. This is not like giving up an evening brandy; it's about losing a part of what you think is your individuality, but your individuality is going to die. Conversely, if you were replaced with Jesus Christ, if you became a genuine temple for His Spirit, well, let me tell you, you'd be absolutely invincible. But you wouldn't be fighting for the goals of your former days, the desires of your flesh. Nay, you'd be contributing to a cause that will never expire. Even when the world is gone, the fruits of your labour and the treasures you have gathered will be in pristine condition and waiting for you in a world that makes this one look like the stuff under your boots.

Anyway, later on I shall add to this in a second post, describing why the meek and poor are the blessed ones. And I have personal examples, too.

I don't know if any of this makes sense. Honestly. It's early, I'm sleep-deprived, going through quite a spell, and so on. If this helps you, great. If not, ask God to explain these issues to you in better fashion than I can. I don't know that I understand them myself, but I do know that behind my veiled impression of the ideas presented above lies a great and important truth.


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