Sunday, October 13, 2019

Lewis: keeping the commandments

Sunday, October 13, 2019
    Feast of Edward the Confessor, 1066
    [Nicodemus] came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.”
    In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”
    —John 3:2-3 (NIV)
    The very activities for which we were created are, while we live on earth, variously impeded: by evil in ourselves or in others. Not to practice them is to abandon our humanity. To practice them spontaneously and delightfully is not yet possible. This situation creates the category of duty, the whole specifically moral realm.
    It exists to be transcended. Here is the paradox of Christianity. As practical imperatives for here and now, the two great commandments have to be translated “Behave as if you loved God and man.” For no man can love because he is told to. Yet obedience on this practical level is not really obedience at all. And if a man really loved God and man, once again this would hardly be obedience; for if he did, he would be unable to help it. Thus the command really says to us, “Ye must be born again.” Till then, we have duty, morality, the Law. A schoolmaster, as St. Paul says, is to bring us to Christ. We must expect no more of it than of a schoolmaster; we must allow it no less.
    ... C. S. Lewis (1898-1963), Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer, New York: Harcourt Brace and World, 1964, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2002, p. 147-148 (see the book)
    See also John 3:3; Rom. 10:4; Gal. 2:19; 3:24-25; 4:1-5; Heb. 10:1
Quiet time reflection:
    Lord, I have become new-born forever in You.
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Anonymous Tim Warlick said...

I love how the Anglican, ‘mere Christian’, Lewis gets right to the heart of our obedience to the first two, most important commandments which he says constrain us by “duty, morality, the Law”, until we can learn to properly live in our collective and individual need to be born again in God’s love. Truly both commands are for heart-change of the kind the apostle Peter noted.
“22 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. 23 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.” (1Pe 1:22-23 NivUS)

I would only add that when the two commandments are seen in the light of the words by which Jesus commanded them to be fulfilled, in our heart-felt Christian unity in God’s love for all repentant believers, then the two great commandments would have to be translated not just, "Behave as if you
loved God and man", but rather, ‘Behave as if you loved God by loving all repentant believers, in all Christian denominations and faith groups, with your life laid down for them all, as Jesus loved us, so the world would have to see God is love, in Jesus, living in the body of Christ today’.
“13 We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 ¶ And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.” (1Jo 4:13-16 NivUS)

“I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (Joh 17:23 NivUS)

“I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them."” (Joh 17:26 NivUS)

Tim Warlick

October 13, 2019 at 10:36 AM  

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