My mind is blown. I feel numb. And my heart is doing some sort of fluttering thing inside my chest.
C.S. Lewis is getting intense. Throughout reading the last section of Mere Christianity, all I’m thinking is, Frick God, what do you want from me? When He says He wants all of me, I don’t understand. How? How do I do that?? How does this work??
Yeah, pretty resistant.
God said that we should become perfect. And apparently, He meant it. That’s actually scary. Lewis interprets this as, “The only help I will give is to help to become perfect. You may want something less: but I will give you nothing less.”
God is crazy.
“Make no mistake. If you let Me, I will make you perfect. The moment you put yourself in My hands, that is what you are in for. Nothing less, or other, than that. You have free will, and if you choose, you can push Me away. But if you do not push Me away, understand that I am going to see this job through. Whatever suffering it may cost you in your earthly life, whatever inconceivable purification it may cost you after death [Interjection: I assume Lewis is referring to purgatory?], whatever it costs Me, I will never rest, until you are literally perfect - until My Father can say without reservation that He is well pleased with you, as He said He was well pleased with Me. This I can and will do. But I will not do anything less.”
Ok so it’s in God’s power and will to do this - and I need not get myself to perfection. By surrendering everything, God’s way can be made to make me more like Himself. But I can’t wrap my head around what this means for good gifts. It seems all take, all you do is give to God, which actually seems worth it because He’ll give you Himself and make you perfect. What is better than that? But how do good gifts come into play? How can I accept marriage, children, a good family, health, etc. when receiving anything but a new heart doesn’t seem like part of this equation. It may make sense to you, and as I’m typing this I feel like it’s a no-brainer and should make sense to me, too. Well, it doesn’t.
I was reading Romans 12 as well earlier today:
I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice - the kind He will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person [a perfect person?] by changing the way that you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect (v. 1-2, NLT).
And then Paul goes on to command morality, to inspire people of virtue:
- Be humble (v. 3)
- Do well what you’re good at (v. 6-8)
- Love people sincerely (v. 9-10)
- Work hard (v. 11)
- Be patient (v. 12)
- Be generous and hospitable (v. 13)
- Be at peace with people (v. 16)
- Avoid revenge (v. 17-19)
- Do good (v. 21)
Is that God’s full and complete will for us? To be moral people? To be perfect? I haven’t been able to shake the idea in my head of a blueprint - go here, do this, etc. Does God work specifics like that? Or does He make us who are and establish guidance to be virtuous, and then give us creativity to take steps in life on our own? Is it - go here, do this - or - be good, love people, figure out the rest based on that ... ?
I always though of free will in this sense - the creativity to figure out one’s own life. But maybe it’s simply (and only) the power to choose (or not choose) life with God. If He takes all of us - does it mean we surrender that creativity too?
I think I’m always asking myself, what kind of meaningful life work am I going to have? But I need a mental shift that fosters other questions. What can You use me for? How can I glorify You? How can I become less? What kind of meaningful work can You do with my life?
This is heavy stuff.
“We may be content to remain what we call ‘ordinary people’: but He is determined to carry out a quite different plan [to bring us beyond the ordinary and into perfection]. To shrink back from that plan is not humility: it is laziness and cowardice. To submit to it is not conceit or megalomania: it is obedience.”
BAM. And that is what life is about. The relationship we have with God which entails our trying and trying again, day in and out, to give up, surrender, forgo rights to ourselves, that God would make us perfect, like Himself, complete creatures who are brought back to what the Creator intended.