A Counselor Reflects on Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
“There is one thing, and only one, in the whole universe which we know more about than we could learn from external observation. That one thing is Man. We do not merely observe men, we are men. In this case we have, so to speak, inside information; we are in the know (p.23).” Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
This quote reminds me of Proverbs 14:10, “The heart knows its own bitterness; and no stranger shares its joy.” There is more to suffering (grief, pain, rejection, etc…) than can be defined through the changes in our brain chemistry, captured in poetry, or expressed in a story. When we cry, we truly have “inside information” about the experience.
There is a limit both to what another person can know and even what we can make known about that moment. We long to share it in a way that escapes our capability. For some reason (rightly), we believe that if we could share the moment it would provide relief for our suffering or expansion of our joy (Gal 6:2; Rom 12:15). And to the degree that we are successful this relief does come.
This points us to another truth. While we only have “inside information” of mankind, and that only of our own self, this is not true of God. Colossians 1:27 says, “To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you
, the hope of glory
.” Further, Hebrews 4:15 says, “For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”
God knows all of creation, including our pain and confusion, with the same “inside information” with which we know ourselves. Our longing to lessen our pain and multiply our joys through a complete disclosure is more achievable than we realize.
But as soon as this creates comfort it may also strike fear. We are fully known. That also means that we cannot hide. We want to be in control of what is known about us. We would like to decide when we lessen our sorrows and multiply our joys.
Consider a quote between two characters in C.S. Lewis’ The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. The context is the children have traveled to a strange island and met a living star who told them that another friend they met on their voyage was a fallen star. The children ask what their friend did wrong. The living star replies, “It is not for you to know what sins a star can commit.”
It must be enough for us to know that the One who has inside information of us “is not safe, but He is good” (to steal from The Lion, The Witch, & The Wardrobe). When we know God for who He is and how completely He knows us, it should be unsettling. It is a truth that changes the experience of every moment of our lives.
Even more than it is an adjustment to get married and invite a spouse to share a home with you (knowing all your quirks, preferences, pet peeves, fears, etc…), realizing who God is requires a total life adjustment. In this case, however, it is acknowledging a reality that has been present all the time.