A Counselor Reflects on Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
“It is only our bad temper that we put down to being tired or worried or hungry; we put our good temper down to ourselves (p.8).” Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
Have you ever reached that point of exasperation with an inquisitive child and asked, “Why are you asking why?” Hopefully this blog post will not create that level of stress, but let’s ask a similar question, “When do you ask why?”
Lewis’ observation is that we only ask why about human behavior when we or someone else does something bad. We do not bother to ask the question when we do something good.
This reveals something important about how we think (do you get nervous when a counselor says that?). Actually, it reveals two things:
- A belief that people are basically good, so that it is only their bad behavior that needs to be explained.
- A belief that bad behavior is more important, because it is what warrants our time and attention in examination.
This post will focus on the first one and leave you to ponder the second on your own.
Too often we forget that our humanity comes pre-flawed at birth. Consider this quote from theologian Millard Erickson,
“The Bible’s depiction of the human race is that it today is actually in an abnormal condition…. In a very real sense, the only true human beings were Adam and Eve before the fall, and Jesus. All the others are twisted, distorted, corrupted samples of humanity (p. 518).” from Christian Theology.
If that is true, then it is our good behavior that needs to be explained. It is our kindness, patience, affection, encouragement, peace, and hope (feel free to add to the list) that do not make sense without the “interference” of an outside influence.
When we realize this, we begin to see God as being much more active in our lives and world. We should ask “why” about every good thing in us, in others, and in our world. The continual answer would be “only the grace of God.”
With that in mind, hear the words of James 1:16-17 (emphasis added).
Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
James began by saying “do not be deceived” because he knew there were many alternative explanations for the good things in life (the most deceptive being that it is only bad events or behaviors that need an explanation). Then he reminds his suffering brothers and sisters, see God in every good thing in your life. Use every pleasant moment as a reminder of the love and grace of your Father.