Introductory Note:

Discipleship to Christ cannot be described in merely negative terms. “Do not be conformed to this world” is a necessary component of discipleship, but not a complete description. Paul also says, “Be transformed by the renewing of your minds” in his letter to the Romans. The movement away from the world and its distractions must be matched by a corresponding move toward Christ and his way of living. C. S. Lewis describes this movement well in this excerpt from Mere Christianity. Moving away from a life that is impossible—a sort of compromise with our old life and the new one—we find we can live a life powered by grace. We turn from our usual mechanisms for dealing with life to find that the kingdom of God is close at hand, utterly available to us. As Lewis says, “We can only do it for moments at first. But from these moments the new sort of life will be spreading through our systems.” Also he describes so well that such transformation often comes where we least expect it: “the very moment you wake up.”

Matt Filer

Excerpt from Mere Christianity

The ter­ri­ble thing, the almost impos­si­ble thing, is to hand over your whole self — all your wish­es, and pre­cau­tions — to Christ. But it is far eas­i­er than what we are try­ing to do instead. For what we are try­ing to do is remain what we call our­selves,” to keep per­son­al hap­pi­ness as our great aim in life, and yet at the same time be good.” We are all try­ing to let our mind and heart go their own way — cen­tered on mon­ey or plea­sure or ambi­tion — and hop­ing, in spite of this, to behave hon­est­ly and chaste­ly and humbly.

And that is what Christ warned us you could not do. As He said, a this­tle can­not pro­duce figs. If I am a field that con­tains noth­ing but grass-seed, I can­not pro­duce wheat. Cut­ting the grass may keep it short: but I shall still pro­duce grass and no wheat. If I want to pro­duce wheat, the change must go deep­er than the sur­face. I must be ploughed up and resown. 

That is why the real prob­lem of the Chris­t­ian life comes where peo­ple do not usu­al­ly look for it. It comes the very moment you wake up each morn­ing. All your wish­es and hopes for the day rush at you like wild ani­mals. And the first job each morn­ing con­sists sim­ply in shov­ing them all back; in lis­ten­ing to that oth­er voice, tak­ing that oth­er point of view, let­ting that oth­er larg­er, stronger, qui­eter life come flow­ing in. And so on, all day. Stand­ing back from all your nat­ur­al fuss­ings and fret­tings; com­ing in out of the wind. 

We can only do it for moments at first. But from those moments the new sort of life will be spread­ing through our sys­tem: because now we are let­ting Him work at the right part of us. It is the dif­fer­ence between paint, which is mere­ly laid on the sur­face, and a dye or stain which soaks right through. 

He nev­er talked vague, ide­al­is­tic gas. When He said, Be per­fect,” He meant it. He meant that we must go in for the full treat­ment. It is hard; but the sort of com­pro­mise we are all han­ker­ing after is hard­er – in fact, it is impos­si­ble. It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird; it would be a jol­ly sight hard­er for it to learn to fly while remain­ing an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you can­not go on indef­i­nite­ly being just an ordi­nary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.

Excerpts tak­en from Mere Chris­tian­i­ty. Pub­lished by Harper­One, New York, NY1996.

Pho­to by Jr Kor­pa on Unsplash

Text First Published January 1952 · Last Featured on March 2022

📚 The 2022 – 23 Ren­o­varé Book Club

This year’s nine-month, soul-shap­ing jour­ney fea­tures four books, old and new, prayer­ful­ly curat­ed by Ren­o­varé. Now under­way and there’s still time to join.

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