Mere Christianity, Book Four, Chapter 8: “Is Christianity Hard or Easy?”

Putting on Christ is not just one job that Christians have, it is the one job that Christians have.

  • It’s not something only a special class of Christians do, it’s what Christianity is all about.
  • This is completely different from any other idea of ‘morality’ or ‘being good.’

The ordinary idea for young Christians, or non-Christians is

  • We start with ourselves
  • We admit that there ‘morality’ or ‘decent behavior’ or ‘the good of society’ has some claim on our lives
  • Those claims interfere with our own desires
  • We try to do all of the ‘right’ things and not do all of the ‘wrong’ things and have something of ourselves left over to pursue our own interests.
  • Lewis likens it to paying taxes, and hoping we have something left over to live on.

Following this method of the ‘Christian life’ leads us to

  • Being very unhappy, because
    • as we try to meet the demands of our conscious, more demands will be placed on us
    • our natural life will be starved and frustrated, becoming increasingly angry
  • leading you to either give up
  • or become one of those unhappy, grumpy people who ‘live for others,’ and generally end up being a far greater pest than they would have been had they remained selfish

The Christian way is different — harder and easier

  • Christ demands all of us
  • Not some of our time and some of our money and some of our work
  • ALL of us
  • Not to torture our natural self
  • but to kill it
  • Half measures are no acceptable
  • Not pruning a branch here and there
  • Cutting down the whole tree
  • He wants to whole self — the good, the bad and the ugly
  • In its place, he wants to give us a new self
  • He wants to give us Himself!
  • His will will become our own

Harder and easier than trying to do it on our own

  • One time he says, “Take up your Cross,” “in other words, it is like going to be beaten to death in a concentration camp.”
  • The next minute he says, “My yoke is easy and my burden light.”
  • He means both.

We can very often see that the lazy student takes shortcuts, but months later has to work much harder than the student who put the hard work in learning the principles earlier in the school year. The same is true in any craft for field.

The terrible, almost impossible thing is to hand over all of our wishes and fears to Christ

  • It’s far easier for Him to do His work through our submitted lives than for us to try to do ‘good’ on our own
  • By trying to do it on our own, we are trying to be honest, chaste and humble, while letting our heart follow the desires of money, pleasure and success
  • Interestingly enough, Christ told us we couldn’t serve two masters
  • Thorn bushes don’t produce figs
  • Lewis’ illustration of a grass field not producing wheat — it has to go deeper than mowing the grass, it has to be plowed up (deep change) and resown

That is why the real problem of the Christian life comes where people do not usually look for it. It comes the very moment you wake up each morning. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in. And so on, all day. Standing back from all your natural fussings and frettings; coming in out of the wind.

We can only do it for moments at first

  • but in those moments His new life is spreading through us, because we are allowing him to work on the right parts of us
  • it’s the difference between paint (which is on the surface), and die or stain, which soaks into the clothe or wood
  • He never talked idealistic gas
  • When he said, ‘Be prefect,’ He meant it. He meant that we must go in for the full treatment.
  • It is hard, but the compromise we are asking for is impossible
  • It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird : it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.

This is what Christianity is all about

  • The Church is not object or programs: education, buildings, missions, services, etc.
  • The State is not armies, politicians, building, institutions, laws, police, economics, etc.
  • The Church exists to draw men into Christ, to make little Christs
  • If the Church is not doing that, everything else, even the Bible itself, [is] simply a waste of time

[[ Next: Mere Christianity, Book Four, Chapter 9: “Counting the Cost” ]]

Parent: Mere Christianity: Leaders’ Notes Series

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