Thursday, August 16, 2012

This might surprise you

C.S. Lewis raises an intriguing point in Mere Christianity that is worth thinking about.  He says this,

"[The invisible Christ] works through Nature, through our own bodies, through books, sometimes through experiences which seem at the time anti-Christian.  When a young man who has been going to church in a routine way honestly realizes that he does not believe in Christianity and stops going -- provided he does it for honesty's sake and not just to annoy his parents -- the spirit of Christ is probably nearest to him then than it ever was before.  But above all, He works on us through each other.
"Men are mirrors, or 'carriers' of Christ to other men.  Sometimes unconscious carriers.  This 'good infection' can be carried by those who have not got it themselves.  People who were not Christians themselves helped me to Christianity.  But usually it is those who know Him that bring Him to others."

Lewis leaves a lot of room for a lot of different folks to be participants in the kingdom of God, doesn't he?  When he imagines that those uninfected by Christ can themselves be contagious with Christ, he seems to suggest that there are countless people in this world unconscious of the fact that they have already been enfolded into the divine plan.  Can you be "of Christ", or can Christ be "in you" without your knowing it?  If an honest turning away from Christianity is something that actually draws you closer to Jesus without your awareness, what might this mean to our fellow human beings who are honestly seeking the truth outside of the church?  Might they be deeper into the kingdom than we think? 

I think of Emeth at the end of The Last Battle whose whole life had been a yearning to honor and follow the false god Tash.  Lewis gives us the surprise ending of Aslan welcoming the young man into Narnia.  He counts his earnest pursuit of truth as enough for the kingdom. 

Might this mean, according to Lewis, that the kingdom life has more to do with the honest pursuit of what is real and true wherever that takes us?  That we are "in Christ" and Christ is "in us" when we share in the honest pursuit of what is true and good and real.  And if that's so, doesn't that change the whole conversation of faith we might have with those who disagree with us?  Christ is already in those who struggle with us to discover what is ultimate. 

It certainly might help us avoid the mistake made by the folks in Matthew 25 who wondered when they had ever seen Jesus.  And Jesus says, "You saw me in the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick and the imprisoned. In all those who were seeking goodness from you.  I was "in" them.  They were contagious with me." 

It sure changes things if I can imagine that with every person that comes into my life there is the real possibility that I am at risk, no matter who they are, of being infected further by Jesus. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

The election

I live in one of those states that hang in the electoral college balance:  Florida.  For the next three months we will be subjected to endless and demeaning political ads that don't particularly want to tell us the truth about anything or anyone.  Issues are beside the point and this election will succeed only in making more and more Americans grow more and more cynical and discouraged.  I never thought as a former political science major that I would come to cringe at the mention of the word "election", but I do. 

But then I indulged myself in a little reading of Karl Barth today -- Church Dogmatics II v. 2 -- and there I read about Election.  A great election.  God's unequivocal election of his people.   God in Christ says Yes to us.  He chooses us out of his grace.  "The election of grace is the sum of the Gospel."  God reconciles the world to himself.  The WORLD.  There is nothing we can do to keep God from saying Yes to us.  There is no card we can play to trump it.  God loves us unconditionally.  No strings attached.  No conditions.  No secret code.  No formula of prayer.  God chooses us and invites us to live in response to this election. 

We get to build our lives upon this vote that God casts for us.  We get to live the abundant life of assurance.  We don't have to worry whose on what side.  We're all on God's side.  Nothing shall separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.  It's one issue over which polarity does not exist.  And it just happens to be the most important issue of all. 

Finally, an election to be hopeful about.