Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis is heralded by many as one of the best books on Christianity written in the 20th century. As my daughter prepares to read it for a homeschool project, I found it necessary to read it myself. I’m shamed to admit that I never had before despite trying to focus more on reading extra-Biblical commentaries in my quest to learn more about my faith. One chapter in particular struck me as worth repeating and expanding upon as our current state of affairs in the western church seems to be heading in the wrong direction.
In short, the only source of true joy must come from God. He is the source of all our intellect, reasoning, and emotion. We, as humans, have been given free will to exercise upon our gifts as we see fit, and therein lies both the strength and weakness of our race. We often distract ourselves with things of this world that bring us enjoyment, whether it be watching movies, playing games, or any of the plethora of activities designed to entertain us. But how much time do we really spend immersed in the creation itself, living and learning from the Bible while doing what we are compelled within our soul to do daily?
How much time do we spend choosing to do what our Creator has willed for us? It’s important to note that I did not say “doing what our Creator has willed us to do.” Free will gives us the ability to follow he paths that God has willed for us, but it also allows us to ignore His will in spite of ourselves. If He wills us to do something, we would be so compelled to do so we could not stop it, but then we would be automatons. There can be no true love if it is forced upon us. It must be a choice.
Some of the greatest joys I’ve experienced have come from giving. I can recall instances when someone has needed help and I gave it to them. That is not a testament to my “goodness” as I am not good. No human is. But in these times of giving I was in the right place at the right moment and chose to give, and many of those instances have stayed with me over the years. I felt joy in doing so and I recall that joy when I remember those times. They have stayed with me more than false, manufactured joys even if at the moment they did not seem significant.
When we, by our own will, align with the will of God, we are accepting a gift of joy that is greater than the fleeting laughter we have watching a sitcom or the thrill we get when riding a roller coaster. It is our willful giving of ourselves, our property, our time, and our energy that allows us to tap into this real joy. These are the blessing that count, the blessings that we share with others even when it’s difficult to do so, and yet all too often we see them as a burden.
I stopped off at Jack In The Box a couple of months ago. The drive-thru was full but the lobby was practically empty, so I went inside. A man in there caught my attention, which wasn’t hard since he was around 6’7″ tall and had an eye patch. He went to the bathroom at least twice, stood around the counter a couple of times, then left. For whatever reason, my burger took an exceptionally long time to produce. I kept seeing bags with burgers hitting the counter before being handed out the window. I wasn’t extremely hungry, but the wait gave the upcoming burger important to me.
As I left with my bag, I saw the tall man sitting on the ground by the door. He said something, but I kept walking towards my call. He said it again. I turned to see him beckoning. Did I have any extra food for him? I walked back to him, gave him my bag, and left.
I almost passed up on a blessing. Had he not been persistent enough to call after me a second time, I would have eaten the burger. It would have been scrumptious, and yet it would have been bitter with every bite. I realize now that I didn’t bless him with a burger as much as he blessed me with his persistence. He gave me a second chance after I pretended not to hear him, and for that I will always be grateful.
There are so many lessons that can be learned from this chapter of Mere Christianity, but his note about the source of joy is the one that touched me the most.
Please watch or at least listen to this video. C.S. Lewis delivered a brief yet masterful lesson on what joy really means and the only way to achieve it in our short time on earth. When we give, it is he who are receiving more often than not.
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