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

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“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

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Derek Maul lives – and writes – in Wake Forest, North Carolina

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

 

 

2 comments

  1. I’ve read Lewis’ “Mere Christianity” and it is one of my favorite Christian books. “Really great moral teachers never do introduce new moralities: it is quacks and cranks who do that” (82). In my experience, “prigs” tend to see the world only their way, and then make rules for everyone else based on their world-view. The problem with this is that prigs usually don’t look at the world through the eyes of Christ, and so their sight is always impaired. Everyone needs enough poverty of spirit so that they always remember the lost creature they were before the Lord rescued them.

    Liked by 1 person

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