Tuesday, August 29 2006
"These, then, are the two points I wanted to make. First, that human beings, all over the earth, have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and cannot really get rid of it. Secondly, that they do not in fact behave in that way. They know the Law of Nature; they break it. These two facts are the foundation of all clear thinking about ourselves and the universe we live in." Mere Christianity
The Apostle Paul summed up Lewis's point almost 2000 years ago: "For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do." Romans 7:15
New Testament scholars have debated ever since: Is Paul talking about his life before he met Christ? After he met Christ? Is Romans 7 even autobiographical at all?
However we answer these questions the basic truth is still the same, for Christians and non-Christians. We all have this "curious idea", as Lewis calls it, that we should behave in a certain way, but we don't obey the law we know in our own hearts. Even when we try hard to obey that law, we fail, at least some of the time, if not most of the time.
It's frustrating isn't it? The seeming impossibility of reaching moral perfection makes us want to give up trying to attain it. And we wonder: is there any way out of this overwhelming sense of defeat? We confess with Paul: What wretched people we are! And we ask: Who will rescue us from this dead-end life, this no-win situation?
Jesus is the way out. He is the only one who can rescue us. As Lewis points out later on in Mere Christianity: Jesus is the only perfectly repentant human being. Jesus alone can work that repentance in us. Our sin is, in fact, nailed to the cross, and Jesus' righteousness is available in return -- if we will simply receive it.
And receive it we must, every day. For we do continue to fail--even as Christians. But over the long haul with Christ--we can make forward progress . . . one step at a time.
In a letter to a friend written on 20 January 1942 C. S. Lewis wrote:
"I know all about the despair of overcoming chronic temptations. It is not serious, provided self-offended petulance, annoyance at breaking records, impatience etc. don't get the upper hand. No amount of falls will really undo us if we keep on picking ourselves up each time. We shall of course be very muddy and tattered children by the time we reach home. But the bathrooms are all ready, the towels put out, and the clean clothes in the airing cupboard. The only fatal thing is to lose one's temper and give it up. It is when we notice the dirt that God is most present in us; it is the very sign of His presence."
Have you fallen lately? Noticed the dirt all over you when getting up? Never mind. Just keep on keeping on . . . with Christ . . . in Christ. By his grace you will reach home one day.