Lewis: Your Place in Heaven

Problem of PainWhen you give a title to a book like The Problem of Pain, you may scare away readers. But if the author is C. S. Lewis, more will be attracted to it than repulsed. And despite the “downer” title, it’s really quite an excellent perspective on dealing with the difficulties we face in life. Lewis also offered this encouragement in the book:

Your soul has a curious shape because it is a hollow made to fit a particular dwelling in the infinite contours of the divine substance, or a key to unlock one of the doors in the house with many mansions.

For it is not humanity in the abstract that is to be saved, but you—you, the individual reader. . . . Blessed and fortunate creature, your eyes shall behold Him, and not another’s. All that you are, sins apart, is destined, if you will let God have His good way, to utter satisfaction. . . .

Your place in heaven will seem to be made for you and you alone, because you were made for it.

The pain we experience in this short stay on earth is more than worth it in the end.

The Real End of the World

So here we are: October 1, and the government is in limbo with its funding. The way it’s being portrayed, we’re in sight of the end of the world. Well, I’m not of that opinion. I have it on very good authority that the end will look something like this:

Second ComingAnd I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. . . . He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. . . . From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce  wrath of God, the Almighty. And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.”

You see, nothing that we consider some kind of ultimate demise compares to the Second Coming of Christ, when He will put an end to man’s rebellion. That same authority tells me this:

HeavenThen I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.

And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” . . . Then He said to me, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son.”

So even though I write about all the trials we go through daily and try to apply His principles to the affairs of this world, I always have one eye on what is coming next. There will be a time when all this—the arrogance of man, the foolishness of policies that undermine righteousness, and the disturbances of life—will all pass away. Ultimate reality will replace what we now think of as real. His righteousness will prevail, and those who have made Him their Lord will see all the things He makes new.

Yes, I will continue to write about the conflicts we currently face and use as much logic and reason as I can muster to convince others of His truths. I will agonize over sin and the destruction it leaves in its wake, and pray that the words I use will help those who are perishing and don’t know it, to lay down their rebellion and seek the Giver of genuine life.

Tomorrow we still may not have government funding, but the world will be here anyway. The end is not yet.

C. S. Lewis: Why Only One Chance?

Some people may critique what the Bible says about having only this one life to get things right with God. Isn’t it rather drastic that if we blow it this time around and end up separated from God that we don’t get to try again? Why not multiple opportunities? C. S. Lewis has a rather unique way of explaining the justice of it all:

[Some say] that death ought not to be final, that there ought to be a second chance. I believe that if a million chances were likely to do good, they would be given. But a master often knows, when boys and parents do not, that it is really useless to send a boy in for a certain examination again. Finality must come sometime, and it does not require a very robust faith to believe that omniscience knows when.

Equal before God

I thought the following cartoon was poignant, and it has nothing to do with politics.

The only addition/correction I would make to it would be to note that one doesn’t have to be a corporate executive to qualify for the result. This particular cartoonist has a leftist slant, so to him a corporate executive was the perfect example. But you could substitute others who believe they have entitlements: film stars, congressmen, media moguls. Then, of course, there are the run-of-the-mill sinners who simply believe that because they’ve done some “good” things, they are entitled to enter.

Jesus, though, was perfectly clear about this: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”

That applies to corporate executives, middle management, and all those who have to answer to them. We all stand as equals before God. Being rich and famous doesn’t help, but neither does being poor and unknown. He shows no favoritism.

God & Cancer

I’ve never wanted to use this blog as some sort of personal diary of my family’s life, but sometimes events are worth mentioning. I hope you will indulge me today.

My wife, Jan, was recently diagnosed with a very aggressive breast cancer. She has now begun chemo treatments. We expect surgery to follow later. When something like this occurs, one certainly must do what the name of this blog enjoins—ponder principles.

As a Christian, I view all of life as a gift from God, and I want to see and understand every circumstance that comes into this life through God’s eyes, as much as is humanly possible. Fortunately, we have His Word as a guide. From His Word, and from what I’ve experienced of His ways during my sixty years, here’s where my pondering leads me this day:

  1. As the Scripture says, “He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” Being a Christian does not shield anyone from life’s misfortunes. We live in a fallen world, and disease is part of that fallenness. Sin destroyed what God originally created. He is not to blame for this illness; to rail against Him and question His goodness would be the height of foolishness. His sons and daughters are not exempt from what the world offers, both good and bad, but Scripture is full of examples of God’s love toward His children who are suffering. His character is unblemished.
  2. God is a God who heals. We are told to pray for one another and seek that healing. The God who healed lepers and raised the dead in both Old and New Testaments continues to do miraculous works on our behalf. “Jeus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever,” we are assured. I have met people who have been healed of cancer apart from medical treatments, healed directly by prayer. I’ve also witnessed, on occasion, healings that could only have come from the hand of God. Therefore, I believe that Jan can be healed this instant, and that it may happen as His people band together in prayer. Where even two or three gather together in His name, He is with them.
  3. God is the creator of man’s mind. He has opened up the knowledge of His world to those who want to understand how things work. As a result, man has come up with ways to deal with disease. Our understanding is imperfect, but medicine is not alien to God’s purposes. He will work through doctors to bring healing. I am long past my youthful, immature reasoning that said any Christian who turns to doctors is not exhibiting genuine faith. I was tempted in earlier days to believe that way, wondering if I was being unfaithful to my Lord if I trusted anyone else to offer healing. I didn’t fully realize that all healing is from His hand, in whatever way it might come. Therefore, as we face this health crisis, we will put ourselves in doctors’ hands, asking God to direct them appropriately.
  4. Not everyone receives a healing in this life, not even those who put their entire trust in Him. I know this bothers some, but it’s just one of those facts of life. I have learned from painful experience, which I don’t wish to share at this time, that one does not put God in a corner, trying to force Him to act. To think that one can do so is to reverse the situation and claim to be God oneself. He calls the shots; I don’t. He is not my puppet who must do what I command. Rather, I give myself to Him wholly and accept whatever comes, knowing that in all things, even those that appear to be awful, that if I love Him, He is working all things together for good. That’s what faith is all about.
  5. There is an ultimate healing. This life is only a temporary stop on the way to eternity. For Christians, there comes a time when cancer and all other diseases will disappear completely. Heaven will be a direct experience of the perfection God always intended for this earth. If we don’t receive a healing now, we will later. The last time I checked, the mortality rate for humans was still 100 percent. Everyone dies; it’s just that we do so on different schedules. We are all terminal. Even those who receive their healing now will die eventually. Lazarus died twice.

What is the conclusion then? Where do all these ponderings leave me? Neither Jan nor I really fear death itself. That will be a glorious transition out of this “vale of sorrows.” What we fear is the path to that transition. How painful will it be? How much suffering will have to be endured? That’s why I’m going to continue to pray for that “temporary healing,” while we wait for the ultimate healing to come. Whatever happens, God is with us all the way, offering His comfort and teaching us His ways. And if the result is that we are drawn closer to Him and we experience Him more fully, the journey will be worth the pain.

Matthew 7:15-23

Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?

So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits.

Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?”

And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.”

C. S. Lewis on "Hope"

Hope is one of the Theological virtues. This means that a continual looking forward to the eternal world is not [as some modern people think] a form of escapism or wishful thinking, but one of the things a Christian is meant to do.

It does not mean that we are to leave the present world as it is. If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next.

The Apostles themselves, who set on foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals who abolished the Slave Trade,  all left their mark on Earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven.

It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at Heaven and you will get Earth “thrown in”: aim at Earth and you will get neither.