This year, I’m working through as many C.S. Lewis classics that I can get my hands on.
Appropriately so, I’m dubbing this year: A Year with C.S. Lewis. I’ll be journaling through it here.
The first essay is the self-titled The Weight of Glory, and it’s been a fascinating read. Astounding perspective on the aching of the human soul and every human’s design for true satisfaction and communion with their Creator. Here are a few reflections:
1. Pursuing Christ satisfies our true desires:
Lewis begins in a provocative way by playing to our desires. He says “If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing…I submit that this notion…is no part of the Christian faith.” That the promises of Christ appeal to our senses, our desires, because it is the original way our soul was crafted. The continual commands to ‘take up our crosses’ and ‘die to ourselves’ are in every way true, but it is the dying to our flesh and taking up our crosses that allows us to become disciples of Christ, and that is the only way to be truly satisfied. This is why John Piper wants you to be a Christian Hedonist, that it’s only in the recognition and correct aligning of our deep desires in Christ that brings life and joy in the Christian life, not the denial of all desires. Lewis writes: “Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” This idea is all throughout Scripture, and is convicting regularly in my own life. Ask yourself, what satisfies you more that Christ? Is it sex? Is it your career? Family? A relationship? Money? If it satisfies me more than Christ, I am being far too easily pleased. Which leads me to my next point…
2. Earthly gifts are only shadows:
We are too easily pleased if we let anything other than the goodness of God satisfy our souls because God’s good gifts on this earth are, at best, only shadows, a “…symbolic relation to what will truly satisfy.” Lewis writes “these things, are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself, they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers.” Love. Sex. Music. Memories. Family. Food. Fame. These things, as wonderful as they are, only hold glimpses of the eternal, shadows of what will be one day when our souls are fully satisfied in the presence of the Almighty. They are not ultimate. They exist because God is good, and he gives good gifts, but these gifts have function, and that is to point us to the eternal, rather than to satisfy our deepest longings. Once we’ve placed earthly gifts as central to our lives, we’re quickly and painfully aware that we still “…remain conscious of a desire which no natural happiness will satisfy.”
3. Let glory satisfy our souls.
There’s much talk about bringing God glory, and rightly so! But, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a sermon that explores the biblical reality that each of us were created for glory as well. Lewis does it here, and if nothing else, it was the reason I needed to read, then reread the entire essay. This truth struck my soul with awe and anticipation like nothing else. Lewis defines glory, simply as: “…fame with God, approval or (I might say) “appreciation” by God.” Lewis goes on to tell us those in Christ, who will pass the final judgment and be found In Him, will find ultimate satisfaction in being found pleasing to our Creator.
“To please God…to be a real ingredient in the divine happiness…to be loved by God, not merely pitied, but delighted in as an artist delights in his work or a father in a son – it seems impossible, a weight or burden of glory which our thougts can hardly sustain. But so it is.”
This, is what Lewis calls the inconsolable secret. The sense that we are strangers in a great universe, and our ultimate desire is to fully satisfied by the One who created us, all else leaves us searching, lacking, longing to be acknowledged.