Coming Up Against God
“In God you come up against something which is in every respect immeasurably superior to yourself. Unless you know God as that—and, therefore, know yourself as nothing in comparison—you do not know God at all. As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you. C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
What Lewis is taking about is probably one of his forms of experiencing God, but is something seldom experienced in our age. Why is that? It’s because we moderns look down on everything, even God, and have forgotten the meaning of pride and humility. We have set ourselves up as judges of the world and of God Himself. I often hear people say “I cannot believe in the God you believe in because He is too hard or that He is too easy.” In this they are simply saying that any God which they believe in must conform to their standards and taste. Now think about that for a minute. What are these people really saying? Are they not setting themselves up as the judge of God? Moreover, if you were to stumble upon an all knowing and powerful God, how likely would it be that all of your values, judgments, and appetites would line up with His? Before you answer, take awhile to think about it, for your answer will tell you where you stand with Lewis’s God.
Now that you have thought about your answer, let’s analyze it in view of Lewis’s remarks. If you said that your values, judgments, and your will line up with the God you believe in, it simply means that you have not experienced what Lewis refers to as “coming up against something which is in every respect immeasurably superior to yourself.” Moreover, it would mean that you are prideful and that you have not experienced the true God or at the least Lewis’s God, or if you have, you have forgotten the experiences. However, either way it is a strong indication that you do not know the true God.
A further test of your standing before God could be calculated by asking a question of yourself which God might ask you someday. What would your answer be if you knocked on heaven’s door and a voice said, “Why should I let you into my heaven?” Would your answer be something along the line of, “Well, I am a good person. I kept your commandments. I did the best I could. I was fair and honest. I never hurt anyone. I went to church every week.” Unfortunately, there are some real problems with these answers if it is Lewis’s God that you are talking to. One is that they are all self-judgments based on comparing oneself with others, which has little to do with the question. Do you think God is concerned about how you compare with others? His reply might be, “So you think you’re better than others?” Furthermore, for most human beings these statements would, in themselves, be a lie. Yes, you might be a good person, but by whose standards—yours or your neighbor’s?
What is the right answer? It is an answer that only those who have experienced what Lewis is talking about can know. Here it is. You will lead me into heaven because that is the kind of God You are, and I know this because I came up against You in the person of Your Son and from that day on I knew You and my true self. I knew that I could never measure up to Your standards, and if I were to be saved it would only be through Your grace and love.