Sunday, April 10, 2005

Sunday Morning Wisdom From C S Lewis

Luke 18:18-25 (New International Version)

18 “A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
19“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good–except God alone. 20You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’[
21“All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said.
22When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
23When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth. 24Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! 25Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

A good friend of ours in New Jersey gave Nancy and me one of our treasured earthly possessions, a gift that has been prominently displayed in every home we’ve lived in since. It’s a print of Hoffmann’s “Jesus and the Rich Young Ruler.” From the time we got it it’s been a reminder of how earthly riches can come between us and God.

In the case of this young man his wealth was the ONE thing that stood between him and following Jesus. The look of disdain and disappointment on his face upon considering what giving up the thing he valued most in life would mean speaks volumes. You don’t have to be a philosopher or theologian to see what’s going on; these are two men going in opposite directions in life.

Jesus, in explaining the parable of the sower, called it the “deceitfulness of wealth.” Its lure is powerful and often chokes out the voice of God, who is warning us to steer clear of the danger of being too bound to earthly wealth.

That danger can go beyond attraction to money. C.S.Lewis, in his Screwtape Letters, described a series of conversations between Screwtape, a high level demon, and Wormwood, a demon apprentice, in which the senior “fellow” gives some devilish advice to the younger, less practiced novice. The theme of their dialogue is finding a way to get children of their heavenly “Enemy” to stray from the path to heaven. The outline of their devilish thoughts and schemes follow for your instruction and edification

The Wisdom of Screwtape on the Appetite of Heaven

“The truth is that the Enemy, having oddly destined these mere animals to life in His own eternal world, has guarded them pretty effectively from the danger of feeling at home anywhere else. That is why we must often wish long life to our patients; seventy years is not a day too much for the difficult task of unraveling their souls from Heaven and building up a firm attachment to the Earth. While they are young we find them always shooting off on a tangent. Even if we contrive to keep them ignorant of explicit religion, the incalculable winds of fantasy and music and poetry – the mere face of a girl, the song of a bird, or the sight of a horizon – are always blowing our whole structure away. They will not apply themselves steadily to worldly advancement, prudent connections, and the policy of safety first. So inveterate is their appetite for Heaven, that our best method, at this stage, of attaching them to the Earth is to make them believe that Earth can be turned into Heaven at some future date by politics or eugenics or “science” or psychology or what not. Real worldliness is a work of time – assisted, of course, by pride, for we teach them to describe the creeping death as Good Sense or Maturity or Experience. Experience, in the peculiar sense we teach them to give it, is, by the by, a most useful word. A
great human philosopher nearly let our secret out when he said that where Virtue is concerned “Experience is the mother of illusion;” but thanks to a change in Fashion, and also of course, to the Historical Point of View, we have largely rendered his book innocuous.”

Be wise. Be prudent. Be edified. Beware the deceitfulness of earthly riches! Don’t be so earthbound that you miss the true riches of the Kingdom of God.


Allan said...

Reads a lot like a call to Socialism, doesn't it?

You are an early riser Phil. I have not seen the darker side of seven a.m. in years except be it to attend to nature's call.

Pandu das said...

19“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good–except God alone."

This appears to be a clear statement by Jesus that he is not God, although he knows God's goodness.

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