Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Those Heaping Coals

I’d forgotten how good Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis was, until I started reading it again. And I’d forgotten how simply profound Lewis was, until I read the chapter “Morality and Psychoanalysis.”

There are enough profound thoughts and insights in this chapter to write a dozen blog posts and still not be finished plumbing its depths. So I’m focusing on one because it – more than any of the others – heaped burning coals on my head.

And it is this:

“Human beings judge one another by their external actions. God judges them by their moral choices.” What he means here is simple: Humans look at what each other do; God looks at what we do with what we’re given. “Some of us who seem quite nice people,” Lewis says, “may, in fact, have made so little use of a good heredity and a good upbringing that we are really worse than those who we regard as fiends.”

Think of the stories told in the New Testament: the widow’s mite; the servant who buries his talent; the man who tears down his barns to build newer ones; why Jesus associated with tax collectors and prostitutes. They were all doing more with their “little” than so many others were doing with their “much.”

Lewis speaks of individuals, but could his words also apply to the church as a whole? The letters to the seven churches in the Book of Revelation suggest that the answer is yes.

For a generation, a large part of the church bought into the American dream. Success means growth; it means numbers. It means worship centers that look more like sports arenas or theaters. It meant marketing, selling our wares in just the right way so that we would brow and be successful by every standard – every worldly standard, that is.

The late Michael Spencer, in Mere Churchianity, did not see a good future for America’s evangelical churches, that they had produced what Craig Groeschel calls “Christian atheists” – people who say they believe in God but act as if He doesn’t exist. What have we done with our “much?”

I read this chapter by Lewis, and I feel burning coals on my head.

We’ve been reading Mere Christianity chapter by chapter, hosted by Sarah Salter and Jason Stasyszen. To see more posts on “Morality and Psychoanalysis,” please visit Connecting to Impact.


Maureen said...

More truth in that single quoted paragraph than in some books in their entirety. Good post, Glynn.

Louise Gallagher said...

I agree with Maureen -- the truth is revealing.

Megan Willome said...

You're making me want to read "Mere Christianity" again. It's been about 20 years.

JC Dude said...

We need to understand "giving" like God understands giving.

Good thoughts bro'

Helen said...

Lewis does have a way of piercing through the layers, doesn't he? I find myself feeling the same way.

Anonymous said...

We apparently felt the same things as we read, Glynn. I don't think I've ever thought of it in exactly the way Lewis presented it, but it's very powerful. Time to wake up! Thanks--great post.

S. Etole said...

challenging thoughts to ponder ...

H. Gillham said...

Thanks for throwing lighter fluid on the few coals I have.

I'm glad I didn't read this early today; I would have thought about it all day.

As always, good word.

Anonymous said...

just like that old saying, "you can't judge a book by it's cover."