Mere Christianity, Book Three, Chapter 10: “Hope”

Hope is one of the Theological virtues

  • Hope means that we are to look forward to the eternal world (but not as a form of escapism).
  • Hope does not mean that we are to leave the present world as it is.
  • Historically, the Christians who made the greatest difference in this world, are the ones most fixed on the next
    • The Apostles
    • The builders of the Middle Ages
    • The English Evangelicals who worked to abolish slavery
  • Since Christians have learned to think less of the next world, we have become almost ineffective in this one.

Aim at Heaven and you will get earth ‘thrown in’: aim at earth and you will get neither. It seems a strange rule, but something like it can be seen at work in other matters.

We generally find wanting Heaven difficult, because we are educated from our earliest days to fix our minds on this world.

We have longings that can never be fully satisfied in this world. Those longings are an indication of a fulfillment only available in the next world/Heaven.

Ways that men handle the failure of ‘ultimate fulfillment’ in this world:

  1. The Fool’s Way – continual chasing of the ‘next thing.’ Wives, husbands, hobbies, jobs, cars, etc, etc.
  2. The Way of the Disillusioned ‘Sensible Man’ – “[H]e settles down and learns not to expect too much and represses the part of himself which used, as he would say, ‘to cry for the moon.’ … It tends to make him a prig (he is apt to be rather superior towards what he calls ‘adolescents’), but, on the whole, he rubs along fairly comfortably.”
  3. The Christian Way – “Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists…. I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that other country and to help others to do the same.”

There is no need to be worried by facetious people who try to make the Christian hope of ‘Heaven’ ridiculous by saying they do not want ‘to spend eternity playing harps’. The answer to such people is that if they cannot understand books written for grown-ups, they should not talk about them.

The biblical language of heaven: harps, crowns, gold, etc., are metaphorical for…

  • Harps: Music->ecstasy
  • Crowns: united with God in splendor, power and joy
  • Gold: timelessness, preciousness, no-decay

People who take these symbols literally might as well think that when Christ told us to be like doves, He meant that we were to lay eggs.

[[ Next: Mere Christianity, Book Three, Chapter 11: “Faith” ]]

Parent: Mere Christianity: Leaders’ Notes Series

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