A Counselor Reflects on Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
“A live body is not one that never gets hurt, but one that can to some extent repair itself. In the same way a Christian is not a man who never goes wrong, but a man who is enabled to repent and pick himself up and begin over again after each stumble – because the Christ-life is inside him, repairing him all the time, enabling him to repeat (in some degree) the kind of voluntary death which Christ Himself carried out (p. 63).” Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
This is an interesting definition of life – the ability to self-repair. Non-living matter only decays. Rocks do not mend their own cracks. Skin does. Water does not pull back from the heat that would cause evaporation. Hands do.
This gives a useful way to think about what it means for every person to begin life dead in their sin (Eph 2:1). Sin was an injury and our soul had no ability to repair itself. Our soul was like a cracked rock or boiling water. It could do nothing to change its condition. We were dead.
Sorrow does not bring life. Trying harder does not heal the wound of sin. There was nothing that we could do. When an injury is beyond a body’s ability to repair it dies. Like a body that has lost too much blood, sin is a condition that leaves us lifeless.
But in the words of C.S. Lewis, Christians have been infused with “the Christ-life.” The living blood of Jesus that has already passed through death bearing our sin is the antidote we receive to resurrect our soul.
The influence of this transfusion is not just resuscitating, but truly life giving. It allows our soul to begin to function as a living soul because of His presence in us. We can begin to recover (“repair”) from the pain, power, and presence of sin.
This is what it means to be born again and made alive. Jesus’ presence becomes like a cure for AIDS. He gives our soul the ability to recover again by His grace. Whereas before, every infection of sin was fatal. Now the antidote of Christ’s blood enables our soul to resist sin both in terms of becoming increasingly less prone to contagion and in the ability to recover.
Beyond the actual influence of a physical heart transplant, we begin to take on the character of our Donor. His life in us changes our life; not just by example, but also by presence.
We become willing to die to ourselves that others might be blessed and have life. There is a draw from the life within us to give its self away. Unlike other forms of life, the Christ-life is not weakened as it is shared. It grows stronger not by eating, but by feeding. It grows larger not when it rests, but when it gives.
I have to say that I have taken the Christ-life in me for granted. This picture of what it means to have been dead in my sin and made alive in Christ has deepened my appreciation for the Gospel. I pray it will do the same for others, and that we will become more contagious with the life we have been given.