Mere Christianity, Book Four, Chapter 5: “The Obstinate Toy Soldiers”

“The Son of God became a man to enable men to become the sons of God.”

Editor: Lewis states that he does not know how things would have worked out if man had not rebelled against God. This seems to fly in the face of a) God’s sovereignty, and b) free will. It seems to me that when we talked about creatures that can truly love must be allowed true free will meant that men had to have to ability to “go wrong,” and God knew we would before he created man… before he created the angels… before he spoke the universe into existence. He knew it, and he created this universe for that purpose. In this universe, man can go wrong, and does go wrong, and God has set this universe, this plan, in motion so that in this universe, he could forge a race of people who freely choose to love him and follow him, then transplant those lovers of God, those sons of God, into a new universe where they can live forever in His presence.

“The natural life in each of us is something self-centred, something that wants to be petted and admired, to take advantage of other lives, to exploit the whole universe. And especially it wants to be left to itself: to keep well away from anything better or stronger or higher than it, anything that might make it feel small. It is afraid of the light and air of the spiritual world, just as people who have been brought up to be dirty are afraid of a bath. And in a sense it is quite right. It knows that if the spiritual life gets hold of it, all its self-centredness and self-will are going to be killed and it is ready to fight tooth and nail to avoid that.”

Imagine what it would be like to turn the toys you had a child into living creatures…. Then imagine what the process would be like for the toy… a toy tin soldier:

  • He would be afraid of the change
  • He would resist the change
  • He would feel like he was being killed
  • He would attempt stop you from changing him
  • “He will not be made into a man if he can help it.”

The extent God has gone to make us into “real people”:

  • The Logos came to earth and became a man — a real, specific man
  • In becoming a man, He did not just assume the appearance of a man, but was actually conceived as a fetus and born a baby.
  • Think of what it would be like for you to become a slug, or a crab…. or a cucumber
  • The result of the Word becoming flesh was that you finally had one man who was the complete fulfillment of everything that man was intended to be, “one man in whom the created life, derived from His Mother, allowed itself to be completely and perfectly turned into the begotten life.”
  • This man took a life that rejected all of the things the flesh values. Was rejected, misunderstood, abused and eventually killed.
  • Later, he rose again — and not just the divine man, but the whole man, the flesh and the divine.
  • “For the first time we saw a real man. One tin soldier – real tin, just like the rest – had come fully and splendidly alive.”

Editor: Do NOT misunderstand this as the Logos taking over a natural body. The human body of Jesus was divinely conceived by the Holy Spirit, but it was fully human, and fully God. It was not a human body ‘hijacked’ (or possessed) by the spirit of the Word.

Here, the analogy of the tin soldier breaks down.

  • unlike tin soldiers, all humans across all history are connected to each other. Lewis’s illustration of “the way God see us” is great.
  • With Jesus, something begins to affect the whole human mass in a new way.
  • The effect of Jesus starts at one point, but it spreads to effect even the people who lived before Jesus, and the people who have never heard of him.

What is the effect that Jesus has on the whole human mass?

  • The transition from biological life to spiritual life has been begun for us
  • The work of salvation, of transformation has already, in principle, been done for all people
  • Each individual has to receive that salvation/transformation alone

Of course, you can express this in all sorts of different ways. You can say that Christ died for our sins. You may say that the Father has forgiven us because Christ has done for us what we ought to have done. You may say that we are washed in the blood of the Lamb. You may say that Christ has defeated death. They are all true. If any of them do not appeal to you, leave it alone and get on with the formula that does. And, whatever you do, do not start quarrelling with other people because they use a different formula from yours.

[[ Next: Mere Christianity, Book Four, Chapter 6: “Two Notes” ]]

Parent: Mere Christianity: Leaders’ Notes Series

[[ Next: Mere Christianity, Book Four, Chapter 4: “Good Infection” ]]

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