Thursday, April 2, 2009

C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

I love C. S. Lewis. I love the way he thinks, and I love the way he makes me think. Truthfully, he makes my head spin. He takes me down mental bunny trails that seem so reasonable as I take each step with him. But after awhile I find myself in an altogether unexpected place, only to look around and wonder how I got there, certain that I'd never be able to repeat the process.

Right now I'm combing through his book (which was originally a series of WWII radio broadcasts), Mere Christianity. Here is one isolated thought of his that struck me that I'd like to get down before I forget it.

In the beginning of Chapter 2 (Book 1) he addresses what he calls "Christianity-and-water," the simplistic view that "there is a good God in heaven and everything is all right -- leaving out all the difficult and terrible doctrines about sin and hell and the devil, and the redemption." And then he says, "...these are boys' philosophies. It is no good asking for a simple religion. After all, real things are not simple." And later on, "Besides being complicated, reality, in my experience, is usually odd."

How wonderfully true that is. And comforting, somehow. I find myself mulling that over in my mind a fair bit, savoring it. Real things are complicated and odd, unpredictable and unexpected.

I strain at times to make sense of my tiny world, to find symmetry and purpose in all the odd twists and turns of my journey on this earth. What a comforting idea that there simply will not be simplicity and symmetry in all things. But that doesn't mean my life lacks purpose and it especially doesn't mean that my loving God is not in control of all things.

Look at one thing He was solely responsible for that is anything but simple: creation. The deeper we look into the intricacies of our world through science, we become ever more amazed at its complexity. Just when we think we've come to the bottom of something, we look deeper and find more to know and understand. (Which raises the question, why are more scientists not Christian?)

And when we stand back and look at the story of God's relationship with us through the Bible, that story is not simple either. There's a lot to it, a lot to digest and put together, a lot of stories upon stories, a lot of history that plays into God's dealings with us. But in the end, His purposes are not thwarted, are they? The complexity is not too complex for Him.

Why should that comfort me? I think because it's so clearly too much to hold in my head all at once, I must conclude that I just do not need to understand it all. He understands it, He controls it, and that's enough for me. I can let go and relax.


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