A Counselor Reflects on Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
“I have heard some people complain that if Jesus was God as well as man, then His suffering and death lose all value in their eyes, ‘because it must have been so easy for him’… In one sense of course, those who make it are right. They have even understated their own case. The perfect submission, the perfect suffering, the perfect death were not only easier to Jesus because He was God, but were possible only because He was God. But surely that is a very odd reason for not accepting them?… That advantage—call it ‘unfair’ if you like—is the only reason why he can be of any use to me. To what will you look for help if you will not look to that which is stronger than yourself? (p. 58-9).” Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
That final question cuts. It reveals the human tendency to vilify anyone that could be of assistance to them. Students resent teachers. Athletes complain about coaches. Employees think bosses expect too much and pay too little. Vice presidents dream of how much better things will run when they’re president and can get their own small business health and safety consultancy service. The person up the totem poll is rarely viewed as “on my team.”
The main reason for this is not abuse of power (although that definitely exists) but because we are competing to be them. You cannot be on the same team as the person with whom you are competing. Therefore, because we want to be our own god (deciding on our own what is best, right, and good), we critique God rather than trust Him.
The question becomes, “Do we really want to serve someone stronger than ourselves or would we rather drown in our own perceived self-sufficiency?” That is the kind of question that initially sparks either anger or guilt. But if we allow the initial wave of emotion to distract us from thoughtful consideration, then we miss the watershed truth that caused the reaction.
I want my accountant to be better at math than I am. I want my surgeon to be smarter and have a steadier hand than I have. I want my mentor to have more experience and wisdom than I have. I want my bodyguard (if I had one) to be stronger than I am (which wouldn’t be hard).
Why then, would I hesitate to embrace a Savior morally superior to me because I feel judged or like His deity gave him a leg up in the competition? Answer: Because I view it as a competition. We are not, nor have we ever been, competing with God for character, peace, hope, or love. God is all of those things and He freely gives Himself to us. We only lose them, when we interpret life as a competition with their source.
That is why the first response to the Gospel is repentance – a willingness to surrender our efforts and embrace what Jesus has already done. We wear ourselves out competing with God (trying to make our definitions of right, good, and satisfying work). We see that God is not wearied by our relentless effort and we grow to resent God as if His lack of fatigue were taunting us.
In reality, God’s lack of fatigue in the face of our sin, rebellion, and efforts at self-atonement is the only hope we have. If we did weary God by the magnitude of our sin, then hope would be in jeopardy. God’s restfulness is an invitation. Will you accept it as a gift of grace or will you resent it because it is His to give?