C.S. Lewis, and why Jesus teaches love over religious rule-keeping

“I’ve loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love. If you keep my commands, you’ll remain intimately at home in my love. That’s what I’ve done—kept my Father’s commands and made myself at home in his love.” – Jesus, John 15:10


I have mentioned before that two of our men’s covenant groups here at WFPC are reading Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis’s classic outline of Christian faith as shared via a series of BBC radio broadcasts during World War Two.

One reason the study still resonates is Lewis’s skill in distinguishing between timeless truth and social norms. The one speaks to our relationship with God and the other to what is generally acceptable in a given society at a given time.

This is why Jesus told people not to focus on religious rule-keeping but to turn their attention instead to the practice of love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness. The thrust of religious code easily moves away from God and toward rule-keeping, whereas the point of love and grace is a relationship with God that is manifest in service, kindness, goodness, peace, and joy.

One Lewis quote from today’s chapter sums this up well:  “A cold, self-righteous prig who goes regularly to church may be far nearer to hell than a prostitute. But, of course, it is better to be neither.”

Prig – noun:  a person who displays or demands of others pointlessly precise conformity, fussiness about trivialities, or exaggerated propriety, especially in a self-righteous or irritating manner.

We found that our conversation moved more around what the Gospel requires of us than what the law forbids. I personally find this to be a liberating thread of thoughtfulness in a society where we are so quick to judge one another without regard to heart. And this is especially true of fundamentalism, where finger-pointers would rather condemn people based on religious code than listen to Christ’s teachings about love and neighbor and relationships rooted in grace.

Between Wednesday and Saturday I enjoy this level of intimate faith-based dialogue with over twenty men. If you are not involved in such a small group designed to facilitate following Jesus as a disciple, then this summer may be the perfect opportunity to get the ball rolling.

Grace and peace – in every way – DEREK

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s