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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Right means for wrong ends

I am reading The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis at the encouragement of my daughter. Though I am not qualified to say so, I believe that it is brilliant and thought provoking, though since I have not yet completed it, I cannot yet offer final impressions. Adler would not be pleased with such premature conclusions.

It's fun to be reading a book and discover quotes that you've heard previously and think, "So this is is the source of that!" But the most staggering statement I've seen in the book so far is the following paragraph, which I don't recall hearing quoted, but I am very familiar with the ailment it exposes.
“There have been men before now who got so interested in proving the existence of God that they came to care nothing for God Himself . . . as if the good Lord had nothing to do but exist!  There have been some who were so occupied in spreading Christianity that they never gave a thought to Christ.  Man!  Ye see it in smaller matters.  Did ye ever know a lover of books that with all his first editions and signed copies had lost the power to read them?  Or an organizer of charities that had lost all love for the poor?  It is the subtlest of all the snares.”  (C. S. Lewis, The Great Divorce, [New York: MacMillan], 71-72)
 This "subtlest" of all the snares" I think, is a prideful and tragic missing of the point of any activity, that in the doing of it get's lost in the activity itself and forgets its real object. For me, my greatest danger of getting caught in this "snare" is in engaging in my morning disciplines for the sake of being able to say that I have taken care of my most important responsibility first, rather than actually longing for and seeking a real encounter with God. How silly it would be if I added to my task list, "tell Kat I love her," or "give the kids a hug." and then mechanically see those actions as little more than boxes to be checked. It's an encouragement to do something good. But something about the need to schedule it in such a manner, messes up the real experience.

1 comment:

  1. I think about this all the time when people try to tackle reading through the scriptures in a year. Though the intention is really good, after a while I see the tendency to turn it into a "to-do" on the checklist. While they blow through the scriptures (so to speak) there are passages that "wrestle" with me for days, weeks and months and I find it difficult to move on until I have His revelation on the matter. Some of my most intimate moments with the Father occur during these wrestling matches. I know there is a place for daily scripture reading, and working through the Bible in a year is a great accomplishment, but there is nothing better than a good wrestling match in the mud with the Spirit of God...

    chris konicki