Introductory Note:

In his wonderfully clear, entirely inimitable, and slyly witty way, C.S. Lewis calls us ever deeper into relationship with the Triune God in this excerpt that closes out Mere Christianity. Here he asks us to consider that we will only find our unique, irreplicable selves in Christ—and that the life we lose for his sake will only be the faint imitation of the “real, new” life we find in him.

Renovaré Team

Excerpt from Mere Christianity

At the begin­ning I said there were Per­son­al­i­ties in God. I will go fur­ther now. There are no real per­son­al­i­ties any­where else. Until you have giv­en up your self to Him you will not have a real self. Same­ness is to be found most among the most nat­ur­al” men, not among those who sur­ren­der to Christ. How monot­o­nous­ly alike all the great tyrants and con­querors have been: how glo­ri­ous­ly dif­fer­ent are the saints.

But there must be a real giv­ing up of the self. You must throw it away blind­ly” so to speak. Christ will indeed give you a real per­son­al­i­ty: but you must not go to Him for the sake of that. As long as your own per­son­al­i­ty is what you are both­er­ing about you are not going to Him at all.

The very first step is to try to for­get about the self alto­geth­er. Your real, new self (which is Christ’s and also yours, and yours just because it is His) will not come as long as you are look­ing for it. It will come when you are look­ing for Him. Does that sound strange? The same prin­ci­ple holds, you know, for more every­day mat­ters. Even in social life, you will nev­er make a good impres­sion on oth­er peo­ple until you stop think­ing about what sort of impres­sion you are
mak­ing. Even in lit­er­a­ture and art, no man who both­ers about orig­i­nal­i­ty will ever be orig­i­nal: where­as if you sim­ply try to tell the truth (with­out car­ing twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become orig­i­nal with­out ever hav­ing noticed it. The prin­ci­ple runs through all
life from top to bottom.

Give up your self, and you will find your real self. Lose your life and you will save it. Sub­mit to death, death of your ambi­tions and favourite wish­es every day and death of your whole body in the end: sub­mit with every fibre of your being, and you will find eter­nal life. Keep back noth­ing. Noth­ing that you have not giv­en away will ever be real­ly yours. Noth­ing in you that has not died will
ever be raised from the dead. Look for your­self, and you will find in the long run only hatred, lone­li­ness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him every­thing else thrown in.

Mere Chris­tian­i­ty by C.S. Lewis. New York: Touch­stone, 1996 (and var­i­ous oth­er edi­tions). This excerpt reprint­ed here via DACC​.edu.

📚 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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