Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Weight of Glory

If you asked twenty good men today what they thought the highest of the virtues, 
nineteen of them would reply, Unselfishness.  
But if you asked almost any of the great Christians of old he would have replied, 
You see what has happened?
A negative term has been substituted for a positive, and this is of more than philological importance.  
The negative ideal of Unselfishness carries with it the suggestion not primarily 
of securing good things for others, 
but of going without them ourselves, 
as if our abstinence and not their happiness 
was the important point.  
I do not think this is the Christian virtue of Love.  
The New Testament has lots to say about self-denial, but not about self-denial as an end in itself.  
We are told to deny ourselves and to take up our crosses in order that we may follow Christ; 
and nearly every description of what we shall ultimately find 
if we do so 
contains an appeal to desire.
If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that 
to desire our own good 
and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, 
I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith.  
Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward 
and the staggering nature 
of the rewards promised in the Gospels, 
it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires 
not too strong, but too weak.  
We are half-hearted creatures, 
fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, 
like an ignorant child 
who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum 
because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer 
of a holiday at the sea.  
We are far too easily pleased.

That is an excerpt of The Weight of Glory by C.S. Lewis.
It shows up in the opening pages of Desiring God by John Piper as he expounds his description of that strange phrase "Christian Hedonism".  
Desiring God is the upcoming bible study for small groups in my church family.  
I sense something in the air.  
There's a wind around us setting things astir.
With my beloved I will commit the remainder of my summer to:
pray specifically
for it to pick up speed, 
point out truth
pin us down with conviction
prevail mightily over us and 
push us forward.

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