Tag Archives: CS Lewis

The Weight of Glory (Sermon) by C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963)
C.S. Lewis (1898-1963)

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) is one of the most well-known Christian authors of the 20th century having written such works as the Mere Christianity, Miracles, The Problem of Pain, The Screwtape Letters, and The Chronicles of Narnia. In addition to writing, Lewis was a profession of English Literature, holding positions at both Oxford and Cambridge Universities during his career.

The sermon currently being reviewed, “The Weight of Glory,” was originally delivered on Sunday, June 8, 1941 at the Oxford University Church of St. Mary the Virgin. This was nine months after the end of the Battle of Britain and in the middle of War World II. At this point in the war, Germany was actively conquering new territories in Europe while the Britain and Free French forces tried in vain to slow them down. On the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, the United States of America was trying hard not to get pulled into the war (something that would happen six months later on December 7, 1941).

This historical context is very important as Lewis delivers a sermon that ends with the statement that one’s “neighbor is the holiest object presented to [one’s] senses” (page 9). In other words, rather than demonizing the Germans or increasing the fear in the hearts of the people, Lewis sets about to remind people of the intrinsic value of humanity. He does this through by starting off talking about how we humans we typically substitute a negative term for a positive term. This tendency causes us to be “easily pleased” (page 1) with things, virtues or life’s joys rather than pushing through to receive the true rewards promised through the true nature of the rewards.

From there Lewis explores the philological nature of why we work for rewards. As in, do we work to avoid punishment (as a boy who does his homework to avoid the headmaster’s punishment) or do we do it to gain greater rewards in the future (learn Greek, for example, so we can read poetry later rather than just because we have to). During this discussion, Lewis switches from talking about rewards to talking about the human desire for heaven. It is here that Lewis begins to build out his real argument, that is, to establish the fact that humanity was meant for more than just this mortal life. Rather, we were made by God to be with God. Because of this, the highest praise humanity can ever receive is the approval of God like a “child before its father” or a “pupil before his teacher” (page 6).

It is this approval from God that becomes the “weight or burden of glory” that causes to change our actions and behaviors (page 6). Knowing that we were created to glorify the Creator God, we in turn realize that this was in reality our original and deepest desire along. Rather than seeking the rewards of heaven or the escape of hell, we find ourselves instead passionately desire to glorify God. We are capable of this only through Jesus Christ, who opened the door for us to be with God.

After we become aware of our own weight of glory, we are to follow the example of Jesus and care for those around us. In doing so, we realize that “there are no ordinary people” but rather only “immortals” with whom we joke and work with (page 9). The mortal things in life are nations, cultures, arts, civilizations, rather than people. While this may be calm thing to hear in 2015, it was quite the shocker in 1941 when the German nation declared that their culture and civilization was better than everyone else. In making this claim, Lewis was reminding his listeners that people were made in the image of God and worth protecting and loving, regardless of their background. Ant the love that we are to show people “must be a real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner – no mere tolerance or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment” (page 9).

In ending, Lewis’ sermon is a powerful reminder of the purpose in which God created humanity and the end goal to which we work towards. Though there will be wars, trials, and problems of all kinds, we are to constant remember that our focus to be loved by God and to please Him in all that we do. Because of this goal, we are to treat our fellow humans with the same love that Jesus showed us. There are, as Lewis said, no ordinary people, only immortals with whom we may spent the rest of eternity with in heaven.

Satanic Realism: A Real Devil or Just A Disembodied Concept of Evil?

cross danceThroughout history there have always been folks who have doubted the existence of the supernatural, whether that be God, gods, demons, or satan. The problem is that to do so is to claim that one is smarter and better than all the people currently on the planet as well as all those throughout history who have reported supernatural experiences.  And this includes people of all faiths, not just Christianity as the majority (if not all) religions acknowledge some form of the supernatural. Granted, they may differ as to how the supernatural interacts with the physical world, but it is there.

Yet in spite of this, the endless march of history has created a culture in which for the first time a large portion of the population no longer recognizes the existence of the supernatural. Or, if they do, it is simply a footnote buried beneath the weight of materialism.

Followers of Jesus are no exception to this modern tread. Vast portions of Christianity have removed the supernatural aspects of the Bible, claiming that the miracles recorded in the Scriptures were either literary devices designed to booster the authors message or simply the delusions of folks living in primitive times. (as a side note, this trend away from the supernatural within Christianity has always baffled me as belief in “God” is by definition a belief in a supernatural being…..)

One of the difficulties in accepting the supernatural as depiction within the Bible is the existences of evil, or, more specifically, the existences of Satan and demons. This, I feel, IS the biggest challenge for folks in accepting the supernatural as they do not want to acknowledge that there is anything out there fighting against them. It is a lot more comfortable and easier to believe in a “good supernatural being” than it is to believe in a “bad supernatural being”. This is not to say that there has to be a “bad supernatural being” in order for there to be a “good supernatural being.” The Scriptures tell us that God (i.e. the “good supernatural being”) existed before Satan (i.e. the “bad supernatural being”) and will exist long after Satan and his followers are destroyed (Gen 1; Revelation).

The problem with denying the existences of Satan and his followers is that it leaves parts of human experience inexplicable. As Dr. Roger Olson recently said, “much evil in the world, in my opinion, cannot be explained solely by means of human sin.”

Continue reading Satanic Realism: A Real Devil or Just A Disembodied Concept of Evil?

Giving Up Control To Jesus

Public Reading: Luke 18:25-35

The Story:

•    Hard teaching

o    You have to love Jesus more than anything
o    More than family, friends and even life itself

•    This passage has two audience

o    New believers need to know what they are getting into – they need to count the cost
o    Current disciples – daily pick up cross and follow Jesus (Lk 9:23)

•    Focus today is on the second audience

o    It is about control

•    Throughout history, humans have always wanted some type of control

o    The act of being able to make a decision about your life
o    What to eat, drink…how to dress…where to live…
o    Wars have been fought over this issue…
o    In the USA, we hang so tight to our “rights” that I think the rights take over and start control us…

•    Control can be both a good and a bad thing

o    After all the Bible clearly teaches that self-control is a good thing – Gal 5, fruits of the Spirit
o    Yet control is bad in the sense that it can keep us from following Jesus.

•    Jesus said in verse 27, “whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”

o    Remember at this point the cross was a instrument of death
o    It was not something nice to wear around your neck or post on your wall
o    Jesus is telling folks that they have to die to follow him
o    They must give up everything – give up control of their lives to follow Him

“Those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.” –Luke 14:33

Continue reading Giving Up Control To Jesus

It’s Messy and I Don’t Like It

Regardless of culture background or individual personalities I think one of the common factors of humanity is a desire to be in control. We want crave the desire to make choices that effect our lives and, for the most part, having a certain amount of control over what we do, think, act, goes, etc. is a GOOD thing! The opposite of having control is being out of control, which by definition, means that something or someone else is controlling you.

Yet this basic urge to have control over our lives is in direct conflict with the life that Jesus is calling us all towards. St. Paul in Romans 12:1 tells us that are to “offer [our] bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God.” While we may want to pretty things up a bit, in ancient days sacrifices involved the killing of an animal. So if we are to be a “living sacrifice”, that means we are to give Jesus everything (our desires, passions, jobs, family, dreams, future, etc.) as if we had died.

In fact, though we are still physically alive and make look the same, when we do give Jesus everything we do “die” in the sense that the “old us” is gone and we have been made anew through the life giving grace and blood of Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17). In doing this, we, as followers of Jesus, take up His mission, passion, dreams, hopes, etc. (this would be the “transformed by the renewing of your mind” that St. Paul mentions in Romans 12:2 right after his “living sacrifice” comment).

C.S. Lewis puts it this way:

“The more we let God take us over, the more truly ourselves we become – because He made us. He invented us. He invented all the different people that you and I were intended to be. . .It is when I turn to Christ, when I give up myself to His personality, that I first begin to have a real personality of my own.”

So far so good…However, there is a catch…Most Jesus followers would be ok with giving up everything to Jesus if it only meant taking up good ethics and living a good life. You know, don’t lie, cheat, steal, kill folks or any of those ‘bad’ things. Unfortunately, Jesus didn’t define things that way. When He called us lose our lives for His sake (Mark 8:34-35), He actually meant giving up EVERYTHING – no holdovers or hidden places where we get to keep a little something for ourselves.

This is where things gets messy.

You see, in most of places of Christianity around the world and throughout time there has been a desire to control the working of the Holy Spirit (who, by the way, is God just as Jesus is God and the Father is God – they are One through the great mystery Christians call the “Trinity”). In his first letter to the Thessalonians, St. Paul addressed this issue and told them not to “quench the Spirit” or to “treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:19-22).

Continue reading It’s Messy and I Don’t Like It

Worship: The Heart of Worship

Today I wanted to post the second part of my short sermon series on worship (part one can be found here). The full audio version can be found on the PRV website along with the audio file of part three presented by Shelton Taguma from Zimbabwe.

Core Values

I was re-reading our core values this past week when I ran across a beautifully written statement about this:

“God is eager to be known and experienced by all. We believe that God is searching for lost humanity in order to draw us into intimate relationship with Himself. In response to God’s initiative, we value the life-changing power of the experience of His presence.

The primary place where that relationship is nurtured and developed is in the act of worship – both private and corporate. So, experience-based worship is the central activity of all that we do in the Vineyard. It is worship that causes all else that we do to become an act of worship. We experience God’s presence as a palpable reality when we worship. As we worship we become increasingly sensitive and response to the Spirit’s presence so that we can do as Jesus did: “See what the Father is doing,” (John 5:19) and support His work with our lives.”

We are a people of the presence of God. We seek His presence as a child seeks their parents – as a calf is drawn to its mother, so we are to be drawn to the presence of the Lord.

This desire to be in the presence of God affects how we worship as a community for it must be:

  • Regular
  • Real
  • Non-religious
  • Relevant
  • Contemporary
  • Simple
  • Love-song-oriented
  • Honest
  • Free
  • Warm
  • Open
  • Personal
  • Tender
  • Non-manipulative
  • Non-hyped
  • Sincere
  • Intimate
  • Music

(the above list was drawn from Alexander Venter‘s book about the Vineyard called “Doing Church”)

There is just something powerful about music as it has a way of uniting our mental, emotional, and spiritual parts into one. It connects with us in a way that is deeper than our mind – we remember songs more so than sermons (which is why we need to be careful about the songs we sing and/or listen too)….

Continue reading Worship: The Heart of Worship

“What Christmas Means to Me” by CS Lewis

A friend of my recently shared this short essay by CS Lewis about Christmas in the book “God in the Dock. After reading it, I just had to pass it along as it hits the nail on the head:

“Three things go by the name of Christmas. One is a religious festival. This is important and obligatory for Christians; but as it can be of no interest to anyone else, I shall naturally say no more about it here. The second (it has complex historical connections with the first, but we needn’t go into them) is a popular holiday, an occasion for merry-making and hospitality. If it were my business to have a ‘view’ on this, I should say that I much approve of merry-making. But what I approve of much more is everybody minding his own business. I see no reason why I should volunteer views as to how other people should spend their own money in their own leisure among their own friends. It is highly probable that they want my advice on such matters as little as I want theirs. But the third thing called Christmas is unfortunately everyone’s business.

“I mean of course the commercial racket. The interchange of presents was a very small ingredient in the older English festivity. Mr. Pickwick took a cod with him to Dingley Dell; the reformed Scrooge ordered a turkey for his clerk; lovers sent love gifts; toys and fruit were given to children. But the idea that not only all friends but even all acquaintances should give one another presents, or at least send one another cards, is quite modern and has been forced upon us by the shopkeepers. Neither of these circumstances is in itself a reason for condemning it. I condemn it on the following grounds.

1) “It gives on the whole much more pain than pleasure. You have only to stay over Christmas with a family who seriously try to ‘keep’ it (in its third, or commercial, aspect) in order to see that the thing is a nightmare. Long before December 25th everyone is worn out — physically worn out by weeks of daily struggle in overcrowded shops, mentally worn out by the effort to remember all the right recipients and to think out suitable gifts for them. They are in no trim for merry-making; much less (if they should want to) to take part in a religious act. They look far more as if there had been a long illness in the house.

Continue reading “What Christmas Means to Me” by CS Lewis

Rob Bell, C.S. Lewis and the Split of Evangelicalism

As I mentioned before, there is currently a theological war going on within evangelicalism on the same scale of the Protestant Reformation and the Fundamentalist–Modernist Controversy of the early 1900’s. The crazy thing about this ‘war’ is that it is really NOT about theological matters or even doctrine (unlike some of the other theological splits and wars).

This battle is more about control and the worldview through which one reads the Bible.

Jimmy Spencer put it this way last week on Tony Campolo’s “Red Letter Christans” blog:

“Over the past couple years we have seen a growing hostility between conservative and more legalistic traditions of Christianity here in the USA and the more progressive traditions who focus more on loving and serving others. This doesn’t cleanly break across strictly denominational lines either.


You’re witnessing something big right now.
You’re witnessing a new split in Protestant Evangelicalism

This thing is going to split wide open.

I’m not saying it is a good or bad thing…but I can tell you it’s coming. It doesn’t have all the vocabulary put to it yet—but it is coming. It has been a bit under the radar for much of the Christian world—but it will spill out into the streets and the media and be a fullblown separation.

We have all felt tremors of this thing coming for a couple years now…

Rob Bell’s book will play a huge part in triggering this split.

This is not just about theology.

It’s about control of the story of Jesus.
It’s about the entire framing of God and The Gospel.

It’s gonna be something we mentally mark
It’s gonna start something big

It may not be nailing 95 theses on a door…”

Continue reading Rob Bell, C.S. Lewis and the Split of Evangelicalism

“Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis

Old jewels may get a tad dusty for lack of use, but they always retain their value.

C.S. Lewis’ classic book “Mere Christianity” is one such jewel. Originally given as a series of BBC radio talks during the early 1940’s in England, this book is just as powerful and valuable as the day it was aired.

While I have read the book a few times before, it has been years since I’ve cracked the spine. As such, when I re-discovered a MP3 copy of the book hiding on my bookshelf, I decided to give it a listen…

The one thing that stood out to me this time through was C.S. Lewis’ comments on usury – or the act of charging interest on loans.

Lewis basically called into question the wisdom of building our entire economy on a practice condemned by Moses, Aristotle, and Christians throughout the Middle-Ages. It seems that Lewis saw the hand-writing on the wall as here we are 70 years later in the middle of the worse economy crashes in modern history – all because we as individuals, companies and nations borrowed way too much money.

Perhaps we should listen to our forefathers and change the way we do business…

Being Eustace

vineyardnw confThis past week was the 2010 Northwest Vineyard Region conference this week in Boise. It was a wondering time full of God’s refreshing waters.

The timing of the conference was amazing as we entered into the week pretty beat up. Yet, God continued to show up and met us where we were at.

I’m smiling as I write this ‘cause I’m remembering the prayer times when a stranger would walk up to us and start describing out lives before sharing the hope and love of God with us. Yeah, I used the plural of “times” – it happened a lot this week.  Talk about feeling loved by the Father.

Em compared it to being Eustace in CS Lewis’ “Voyage of the Dawn Treader.” In the book, Eustace becomes a dragon due to his greed. Aslan rescues him by ripping off the scales one layer at a time.

It was a painful process with each layer hurting worse then the previous one. But in the end, you get a new heart and a new life.

The challenge is to live in that life and not go back to your old life and mindset.

The Faith by Chuck Colson

the faithChuck Colson has an unique writing style full of stories of his adventures working with prison inmates around the world. His book “Loving God” is one of my all time favorite books – and one of the few that have made me cry.

“The Faith” is Colson’s attempt to boil all of Christianity down into one simple volume for new believers, old-believers, and/or skeptics who want to see what it is all about.

Nothing like a challenge. 🙂

Actually, Colson does a really good job for the first half to three-quarters of the book. He stayed true to the Bible and the essentials of the faith – highlighting those things that unify Protestant, Catholics and Eastern Orthodox believers. In other words, he tried to major in the majors and minor in the minor.

However, there are two things that I do not like in the book.

My first objection is a tad petty… but, here is goes. Near the beginning of the book, Colson mentions that he is going to describe the up-most top items in Christianity. He even writes down the number of items he is going to be talking about – only he never lists these items out nor does he refer back to this comment in the rest of the book (which is why I don’t recall the number he gave or what items he considered to be ‘high priority”)… 🙁 Continue reading The Faith by Chuck Colson