h2>A Counselor Reflects on Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
“If somebody else made me, for his own purposes, then I shall have a lot of duties which I should not have if I simply belonged to myself (p. 74).” Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
“Being made” implies a whole other level of belonging than merely “giving myself” to someone. I belong to my wife, but I chose her (at least after the second blind date). I belong to my children, but again, I chose to have them (even if I didn’t know who they would be). In each case, I am the sovereign one giving myself away.
God made me. I had no choice or influence in the matter. I did not even have the mind or will by which I would have cast my vote until after I was created. The use of the word “my” when I say “my life” is one of the most peculiar usages of the possessive pronoun “my.” Maybe the only comparable usages are “my parents” and “my God.”
In both cases it is the other that has a claim on me, but my language inverses the relationship and their love allows it. Because of my parents’ love, I was able to continue making other my-statements: my room, my brother, or my dog. It was only out of the love of that relationship, that I was allowed to get away with such a larceny.
But even as I said those statements so often and believed them to be so true, I was offended when my parents made the slightest expectation of stewardship: clean your room, share with your brother, or feed your dog. I wanted ownership without obligation.
This seems to parallel with God and my life. God blesses me with something I have no ability to provide or sustain for myself. God allows me to call it my own. But when God places the slightest expectation of stewardship upon me, I balk.
I don’t want to love my neighbor as myself. I don’t want to be limited by rest, exercise, or diet. I don’t want to sacrifice my life in uncomfortable ways for some greater purpose. Pretty soon I sound like the teenager who says, “This is my room and I’ll paint the walls and ceiling black with lime green stripes if I golly well want to!”
I start to try to express my rights over something in which I am allowed to live but belongs to another – namely “my” life. When I cry out to God, “I know what you’re asking but it’s too much. This is my life and I will do with it what I please. You’re just being controlling,” then I have become the ungrateful, irrational teenager.
Even as I write this and reflect on the implications, it makes me a bit uncomfortable. It takes the old adage “life is a gift” to a whole other level. I had been assuming that gift meant something that became my exclusive possession over which the giver renounced all claims. I was assuming that I was God’s birthday present to me back in 1977.
God has given me life, but has not renounced all claims on the gift. Like the rest of creation, I was made to give Him glory and am subject to the “rules of the house.” With my parents, I grew up and pursued my own independent life. But with God, I do not mature beyond His care and provide my own reality in which to live. That is humbling, but when I quit resisting it, peace giving.