The C.S. Lewis book I’m currently reading – Mere Christianity – is continuing to make me think. My men’s group had a good conversation this weekend around Lewis’s thoughts on biological life and spiritual life; bios and zōē.
Lewis argues that someone who is spiritually alive is different – from someone who is not – in the way that the puppet Pinocchio was different when he became a real boy.
Jesus refers to having spiritual life as “being born from above,” (John 3:5-8), and that life in him cannot succumb to death. “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me will live, even though they die. Everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:20-27).
Lewis writes that “what man [humankind], in his natural condition, has not got, is Spiritual life – the higher and different sort of life that exists in God….”
Thinking about this, I essentially agree with Lewis; Paul does, after all, refer to us as “new creations” in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). But my theory is that all people (we are, after all, every one of us created in the image of God) do in fact have spiritual life, it’s just for the most part not activated. It’s like one of those spy novels where the sleeper cell is woken up by a trigger event, or word, or chemical released into their environment, and then everything that was dormant wakes up. It was already there, it was just waiting.
I’m thinking we all have spiritual “cells” or micro-possibilities inside us, resident in our souls (even the most ardent atheist) and when we meet Jesus this latent potentiality is activated. Then, once our spiritual cells are “alive”, they begin to grow and replicate as we nurture the faith.
Some people are so naturally loaded with latent spirituality you can tell immediately you meet them. Regardless of church or religion, “saved” or otherwise defined, they are already to some extent spiritually alive. Rebekah and I call these folk “spiritual savants.” They are rare, but we have known a few over the years (personally, I believe Rebekah is one herself and even if she hadn’t grown up in a Christian home I suspect she would have found her way to Jesus by the time she was seven or eight).
One example was a friend Andrew met in elementary school. Vince must have been eight years old when we first talked on the steps of our house. Rebekah and I realized right away he already knew God. He’d never been to church but he showed up the next Sunday, then he brought his mother and before long the entire family decided to follow Jesus.
Make me a trigger, Lord:
Here’s what I want to do and to be in my life. I want to be the trigger, the secret agent who wakes up the spiritual nature everyone was created with.
We’re not compartmentalized, we don’t have a self and a spiritual self at odds about who we should be, our relationship with God is not something “optional” “add-on” or “after-market”. We simply have a life, one that has always belonged to our Father who art in heaven; we are God’s children, and God wants to saturate who we are with the Jesus quality of love, and light, and promise, and peace.