Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Three ways to live

Just in case someone stumbles here by providence, I thought it might be a good idea to post something edifying lest said stumbler worry that the proprietor here has deserted the place.

A few weeks ago the preternaturally productive Justin Taylor posted an essay by C.S. Lewis which I had never before seen. I commend it to you as well worth reading. Lewis has one of his trademark insights about human nature that makes you feel bad because it describes some failing of yours to a “t”, but leaves you with hope because he also describes the remedy.

“There are three kinds of people in the world.

The first class is of those who live simply for their own sake and pleasure, regarding Man and Nature as so much raw material to be cut up into whatever shape may serve them.

In the second class are those who acknowledge some other claim upon them—the will of God, the categorical imperative, or the good of society—and honestly try to pursue their own interests no further than this claim will allow. They try to surrender to the higher claim as much as it demands, like men paying a tax, but hope, like other taxpayers, that what is left over will be enough for them to live on. Their life is divided, like a soldier’s or a schoolboy’s life, into time “on parade” and “off parade,” “in school” and “out of school.”

But the third class is of those who can say like St Paul that for them “to live is Christ.” These people have got rid of the tiresome business of adjusting the rival claims of Self and God by the simple expedient of rejecting the claims of Self altogether. The old egoistic will has been turned round, reconditioned, and made into a new thing. The will of Christ no longer limits theirs; it is theirs. All their time, in belonging to Him, belongs also to them, for they are His.”

You can read the rest here.


Boyd said...

Good quote, Michael. And a couple good links I found through it.

Bob - Mind on Fire said...

Michael - nice to see the "open" sign on your shop! To my thinking, the remarkable thing about Lewis' conversion was the shift from self to Christ and I think that your quote has an autobiographical element in it - Lewis can write it because he has lived it. Oh the freedom we have in being captive to the will of Jesus! Why do I resist that freedom?

Boyd said...

The more I read this, the more profoundly it strikes me. It really got my attention - the next paragraph contains: "...the members of the second class are always unhappy..."

And the last paragraph, which took several readings to understand: "The world is so built that, to help us desert our own satisfactions, they desert us. War and trouble and finally old age take from us one by one all those things that the natural Self hoped for at its setting out. Begging is our only wisdom, and want in the end makes it easier for us to be beggars. Even on those terms the Mercy will receive us."

Good stuff!