A Counselor Reflects on Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

“But the question is not what we intended ourselves to be, but what He intended us to be when He made us. He is the inventor, we are only the machine. He is the painter, we are only the picture. How should we know what He means us to be like?… We may be content to remain what we call ‘ordinary people’: but He is determined to carry out a quite different plan. To shrink back from that plan is not humility, it is laziness and cowardice. To submit is not conceit or megalomania; it is disobedience (p. 203-204).” Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

This quote first insults me, then exalts me, and ultimately humbles me in a pleasant way. It is odd to take that journey in such a few sentences and be able to enjoy it (or even to understand it).

The Insult: God defines success. I was made for a purpose. Whether my life is good or bad, successful or a failure, is determined by whether I fulfill His design.

My instinct is to resist that notion. I want a vote. I fear God selecting a design and me having a preference for something else. I would then be forced to choose between pleasing God and joy. I would be trapped and feel cheated either way.

But this resistance is built upon an assumption – that I could conjure a joy contrary to how God designed me that would be more fulfilling than God’s will. But, when examined, that seems absurd. Could a fishing pole be more satisfied doing anything but catching fish? Why would I want to rebel against my design?

The Exaltation: With my resistance debunked, my passion is then unleashed. God says (according to Lewis), “Don’t be ordinary at what I made you to be!” I realize God is not holding me back at all. From the covenant with Abraham, God has said, “I am blessing you to be a blessing. Go, change the world. As your name becomes great in the ways I’ve blessed you, I will receive the glory (Gen. 12:1-3).”

It becomes clear that if God were going to feel in any way competitive with me, He would not have made me. God made me for a purpose, and He is delighted to see that purpose fulfilled. My enjoyment of doing those things I was created to do is the fulfillment of His joy in creating me. God is a Father who delights in getting to say, “Well done (Matt. 25:21, 23)!”

The Humbling: Once my passion has been unleashed, I realize that whatever I accomplish is merely the unpacking of what God implanted. My whole life is much like children opening their lunch box at school to find out what their parents packed for them to enjoy.

It becomes clear that, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father (James 1:17).” However much or little I accomplish within God’s design, it will be for my joy and His glory.

God made each one of us to reflect His image generally (Gen 1:27), but to reflect certain of His attributes and abilities specifically (I Cor.12). When I tap into those things that are “uniquely me” in a God-honoring way, I am merely putting on display the grace and goodness of God.

In effect, God unleashing us so we can unveil Him to the world.