Sunday, September 03 2006
"Human beings, after all, have some sense; they see that you cannot have any real safety or happiness except in a society where every one plays fair, and it is because they see this that they try to behave decently." Mere Christianity
It is easy to think when you are having trouble in relationships with other people: I am fine when I am left alone. But then when you are left alone are you truly fine? Don't you find rising within your heart certain desires which your conscience tells you are wrong? Don't you find certain thoughts crossing your mind which you know are uncharitable? And isn't the whole problem of being left alone, the problem of solitary monasticism, that you are in fact being selfish about wanting time and space all to yourself? Those of us who are not solitary monks perhaps secretly want even God to be excluded from our alone time, our alone space.
So when one is alone and facing all of these inner demons one is tempted to think: the solution is to spend more time with others--that will bring me out of myself--out of this melancholy. But then when one does spend more time with others relational problems erupt sooner or later.
Lewis is right when he says elsewhere that the moral law deals both with behavior between persons and cleanliness inside of persons. Lewis uses the analogy of navy ships traveling in convoy--they need to be kept ship-shape on the inside, but also need to be kept from colliding with each other. Both aspects are important. And the reality of this moral law must, as Lewis insists over and over again, simply be "seen". If one wants to see through basic principles then what one is really longing for is an invisible world.
However, seeing the reality of the moral law does not solve our inward or outward problems. The moral law solves neither the problem of the solitary monk nor the person who lives in community with others. In fact, there is only one person who can solve both of those problems--the one perfect human being--the one who was perfect when alone--and the one who was wholly righteous in community. That is the God-Man Jesus Christ.
"For there is one God and one mediator between God and human beings, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all human beings--the testimony given in its proper time." 1 Timothy 2:5-6
Lord Jesus, live in me both when I am alone and when I am with others. When I am alone may my focus not be myself but you. When I am with others may I recognize your image in them and serve them as I would you, for your honor and glory. Amen.