In an age of desperation and despair, C. S. Lewis was a beacon of hope. Lewis is one of the most famous Christian authors of the 20th century, responsible for works such as The Screwtape Letters, The Chronicles of Narnia, and the subject of this essay, Mere Christianity. What began as a series of radio interviews eventually became a novel dedicated to one thing: the clarification of fundamental Christian beliefs. The purpose of this essay is to gain a basic understanding of Lewis’ work by looking at some of the key references in the novel.
In the middle of the book, Lewis summarizes his thoughts on Jesus Christ in one statement: “The Son of God became a man so that men could become sons of God.” This is a fact that the average Christian may overlook from time to time. As carnal and flawed humans, we like to think that we can solve problems of our own power. We constantly need a reminder that Jesus sacrificed infinitely so that we can live with Him for eternity. Once a Christian begins weaving this gratefulness and love into their daily actions, they will experience a paradigm shift in their lives. We need to remember that we love God because He first loved us.
Next, let’s examine Lewis’ standpoint on forgiveness, as he describes in Chapter 7: “God intends us to love all selves in the same way and for the same reason: but He has given us the sum ready worked out in our own case to show us how it works. We have then to go on and apply the rule to all the other selves. Perhaps it makes it easier if we remember that that is how He loves us.”This passage moved me in particular because I spent the majority of the summer pondering the nature of forgiveness. To love someone even after seeing through their shell and discovering the flaws within… it made me appreciate Jesus’ undying love for me even more. But Lewis brought up a fact that I never even considered: our love for other people should be like the love we have for ourselves! We see every detail of our souls, and despite this, we still love ourselves purely because we are beings. Therefore, we should expand this love to our neighbors! It’s so perfectly simple, and yet, so profound a statement. Again, Lewis has taken a basic Christian principle and broken it down to a digestible level for the average Christian.
Lastly, Lewis affirms his views on humility: “As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on things and people: and, if course, as long as you are looking down you cannot see something that is above you.” The parable of the rich man and the beggar at the altar comes to mind. While the rich man brags about his “gifts” to God, the poor man cries out for forgiveness. This ties into the point I made with the first quote. The second that we place ourselves over God is the second that He will humble us in a major way. The true Christian places spiritual matters above anything he could ever accomplish by himself, and if nothing else, this is one of the largest messages that C.S. Lewis has conveyed through his work.
By magnifying ourselves, we only lose focus of the sight that God wants us to behold. Only through allowing Him to work through our lives can we ever find true purpose and love!
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