Coming Up Against God-C.S Lewis

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.

 

 

Lewis on Good and Bad People

Good and Bad People

A friend read my piece concerning what C.S. Lewis said about good and bad people.  For those who did not read it, I will quote again:  “When a man is getting better he understands more and more clearly the evil that is still left in him.  When a man is getting worse, he understands his own badness less and less.  A moderately bad man knows he is not very good; a thoroughly bad man thinks he is all right.  This is common sense, really.  You understand sleep when you are awake, not while you are sleeping. You can see mistakes in arithmetic when your mind is working properly; while you are making them you cannot see them.  You can understand the nature of drunkenness when you are sober, not when you are drunk.  Good people know about both good and evil; bad people do not know about either.”

Point to ponder:  How do Lewis’s remarks measure up against the views Thomas A. Harris stated in his book, I’m OK, You’re OK ? 

My friend brought up two points that I would like to share with others.  He said that he thought he was ok.  He based this statement on the fact that he lived his life in such a way that he did not hurt anyone.  My reply was, “You are asleep.”  My friend is very much like a lot of people in our culture who see morality only as a negative.  However, there is such a thing as a positive morality.  All morality does not begin with “thou shall not.”  A positive morality is a morality that tells you what you should do.  You should spend time helping the poor, encouraging your friends, etc., in short loving people in a real way.  Morality should not be solely defined by what you should not do.  A cigar store Indian does not do anything wrong, but he also does not do anything right; he does not do anything but take up space.  Doing nothing other than taking up space is sinful.  By sinful I am taking the word “sin” in its uninterrupted sense.  It simply means “to miss the mark.”  We were created for doing good, not for taking up space. Taking up space is to miss the mark.

There also is another problem with thinking that you are ok because you do not break a law or hurt someone.  The reason for your success at your negative morality could simply be that you did not have the need or the opportunity to break the law or hurt someone.  Where is the virtue in that?  The virtue may be in the situation and not in the person.  There is no virtue in being faithful if one is never tempted to be unfaithful.  You do not know where your limits are until they are tested.  A man who prides himself on being faithful to his wife and looks down on other men who are not faithful, may simply be a moralist who never has been tempted by a beautiful woman.  Moreover, he may not have been tempted because God knows that he would fail the test.  We ought to be careful about judging others.  However, to choose one situation over another could in itself be virtuous if a man chose that situation because he knew his weakness and was trying to avoid it by keeping himself from temptation.

My friend, also pointed out that people have different definitions of morality.  However, that does get one out of the pickle that Lewis puts us in, because Lewis is not talking about any specific morality.  If a man is awake, he will become increasingly aware that he does not even live up to his own personal morality and that he is continually lowering or ignoring it to justify himself.  Every time you hear the voice “you ought” and you silence it, the voice gets weaker and you get a little worse. It is a very slow process but if practiced long enough it will kill the voice. LD

Coming up Against Death

Coming up Against Death

Now long ago I quoted C.S. Lewis as once saying, “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 I thought more about this statement, I began to wonder why more people do not have this experience of coming up against God. Then it dawned on me that there was at least one prerequisite that a person would have to meet before they experience coming up against God.

That prerequisite of coming against God is for one to come up against his own death, which is the one thing the majority of man cannot face. To face it, is to face the abyss of meaningless and hopelessness. To avoid this encounter with death, men busy themselves with work and intellectual pursuits. Some of the more powerful ones actually spend a large part of their lives trying to overcome or delay death by diet, exercise, and medical science. All this creates the illusion that they are in control.  Others hide from the shadow of death in some cause which enables them to find meaning and purpose, i.e., religion. In all this, they are attempting to avoid the question of whether or not, if your life ends in meaninglessness, can it have any meaning in the presence.

This brings us to ask, is it more intelligent and courageous to face death without faith, or is it just intellectual foolishness? We might rearrange the question. Is it more intelligent to live an existence of hope and meaning or one of meaninglessness and denial? If you are an atheist, you probably are saying, wait a minute. It is the believer who denies death. At least that is what you have been taught, but is that true? The truth is that death is denied by all men, which means that it is man’s nature to deny it. You are a probably at this point denying your denial. However, be honest about how often you actually consciously think about your own death, and when you do, how long do you dwell on it? You say that is morbid. No, it is reality and no matter how much you try to deny your awareness of it, death forces its way in. Even at the party it whispers that it all must end. So we push its awareness to the recesses of our minds, i.e., the subconscious. Some repress the thought of death to the point that they think and talk as though we were immortal. For anyone to believe that he does not practice this denial is simply nonsense and is nothing more than denial itself.

If death is natural, why does mankind deny it? As a Christian, I do not believe that death is completely natural. Christians believe that God created man for life, not death. So for the Christian, it is not surprising that man fears death to the point of denying it. However, the Christian believes that the correct way to deal with death is through faith in God. In fact, a true acceptance of death will lead one to faith. That is why for many men, the journey toward God begins with the coming up against death. After that they must come up against the true God. You must face your mortality before you can face God. 

The problem with all of this is that it takes courage to face life, death, and God. However, where does the courage come from and how can we obtain it? I personally believe that courage comes from faith, a faith that life is greater than death. This kind of faith does not come from believing in the finite, for the finite is subject to death, and therefore, can only impart a delusion of courage based upon a falsehood that the finite can overcome death. All that is finite is under the power of death. Death can only be overcome by that which stands above the finite; that is, the infinite. How do you obtain that faith in the infinite? It is easy once you face the fact that you are finite and that without the infinite, the finite is meaningless and without hope. As soon as you reach this place, you have come up against death and after that, and only then, are you able to come up against the true God. If you have come up against death and want to know more about the next step in finding God, please contact me.

 

Coming Up Against God  http://wp.me/p5pJxI-2IF

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coming Up Against God

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 highest 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.  Lyle