Tuesday, December 20, 2011

You Will Be Eating With Immortals This Christmas

“There are no ordinary people.  You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to our as the life of a gnat.  But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.  This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn.  We must play.  But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously—no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption." C.S. Lewis.
Let's face it.  Even though Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, Christmas can also be a time when people drive us crazy.  Perhaps it is the brother who refuses to be much of a brother to you. Perhaps it is an awkward (or worse) relationship with a parent.  Maybe it is the obnoxious Uncle.

The quote above reminds us, however, that there are no ordinary people, that each person is an immortal child of God.  You will be having Christmas dinner with immortals.  It will be an immortal who gave you that...gift.  It is an immortal who will be sitting next to you in church. 

It is not always easy to see that.  My prayer is that you are able to remember that this season, when you ready to wring someone's neck.  May your celebrations this year be merry celebrations, without flippancy, superiority, or presumption.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Is Christmas A Nuisance?

"I feel exactly as you do about the horrid commercial racket they have made out of Christmas. I send no cards and give no presents except to children." C.S. Lewis, Letters To An American Lady.
I was shocked to learn that C.S. Lewis was somewhat of a Scrooge when it came to Christmas.  Specifically, in his collection of essay, God in the Dock, he decries Christmas as a nuisance.

I suppose in some sense he is right.  If Christmas is limited to its secular purposes then it is no more than a Federal holiday or worse, a commercial racket.  And truthfully, it is easy to get caught up in a “meaningless” Christmas with all the “duties” that come with Christmas between shopping for mostly needless gifts, dutifully spending time with family whom many would not like to spend time with outside of Christmas (note to my family, this certainly does not apply to you. I can think of no people I would rather spend time with.).

I hope instead this Christmas and every Christmas is one of deep meaning.  I hope you are able to reflect on the love that Jesus showed you by emptying himself and become man.  I hope find time to reflect on the hope that we have, a hope that is certain because of Jesus’ incarnation.  I hope you are able to consider the peace that Jesus offers us because of his life.  I hope you experience joy in knowing the depth of His love for you.  May this joy, peace, love, and hope of this season fill you full such that you are able to extend it to those in your life.

If we do not focus on such things, then C.S. Lewis is right… Christmas is a nuisance.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Pain Removes The Veil And Plants The Flag Of Truth

"No doubt Pain as God's megaphone is a terrible instrument: it may lead to final and unrepented rebellion. But it gives the only opportunity the bad man can have for amendment. It removes the veil; it plants the flag of truth within the fortress of a rebel soul." C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

None of us likes pain.  Pain is never something to look forward to. Unfortunately, pain is at times a "necessary evil" because of the rebelliousness of our hearts.  Sometimes the only way that God can break through the barrier that we have placed around our hearts is with a sledgehammer. In that sense, the pain that God allows (causes?) in our lives is a matter of grace.  In that sense, pain is not a necessary evil, but a necessary good.

Please do not misunderstand.  I am not saying that pain is good. We shirk from pain, and rightfully so.  Yet, we should never deny that God always uses pain for our benefit and His glory. Although that does not necessarily take the pain away, it can make it easier to bear.  We are able to endure when we take our eyes off of our current pain and focus on the promise that, "all things work together for the good."

This is beautifully summarized in Hebrews 12:11:
 "All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness."

Some reading this are in immense pain right now, be it physical or emotional. I do not mean to make light of your pain.  But rest assured that He is in the process of planting the flag of truth in your heart, and the yield will be the "peaceful fruit of righteousness"...as long as you let Him work.  As C.S. Lewis points out, we have two choices when faced with pain: (a) unrepentant rebellion, or (b) allowing the veil to be removed.   

Child of God, take courage and trust Him with your pain! Allow Him to work. It will produce great fruit.