Why I Love God and C.S. Lewis
by Joe Camp
“Christians are whacky. Scary.”
“Excuse me?” I said.
“You know, all the time ranting, raving, singing, praising God.”
“And what is it that’s scary about that?” I asked.
“Well, it’s just scary. They want everybody to act like that. They’re all in your face about it. Finger pointing. Telling you you’re going to hell.”
“All of them??”
“From what I’ve seen, pretty much,” he said.
“I’m a Christian,” I said.
“Well, you don’t act like it.”
“Yeah I do, actually. I try to.”
“You’ve never told me I was going to hell.”
“Where did you see that as a definition of a Christian?”
“Well… I don’t know. Its just that so many of them do.”
“I see. How many?”
“Geez, I don’t know. A lot. Some. A few.”
“How many Christians do you know who have never said that?”
“How am I supposed to know?? I didn’t know you were a Christian. If they don’t say it, how am I supposed to know they’re a Christian?”
“Hmmm…” I said. “Maybe by the way they live their lives? Would that work?”
“Oh, like going to church every Sunday. Following the rulebook. Saying the pledges. Putting money in the plate,” he said.
“All that has nothing to do with being a Christian,” I said.
“Then what does??”
I could smell the attitude.
“Just two things. You, and Jesus,” I said.
“You gotta go to church,” he said.
“You don’t gotta do anything, except put your sincere and truthful trust in Jesus Christ. Accept him as the leader of your life. Then the rest of it is between you and him.”
“Whaddaya mean between me and him?”
“What part of that do you not understand?”
“All of it. You’re supposed to walk down to the front of the church, get on your knees, wave your arms, so everybody can see you.”
“Who told you that?”
“I’ve seen it. In the movies.”
“I see,” I said.
“If you don’t do that, how will they know?”
“Who is they ? And what is it they’re supposed to know?”
“All those people. How will they know I… you know… did the thing with Jesus?”
“Why do they need to know?”
“Well… what if I lied and didn’t really do it? Or maybe I did it, but I didn’t really mean it?”
“Like I said, that’s all between you and Jesus.”
“That doesn’t make sense.”
“That’s all there is to it.”
“But you’re supposed to be good, and stuff like that,” he said.
“My guess is that once you put your trust and faith in the kindest, most loving man who has ever been recorded in history, once you have a real relationship with him… well… you’ll probably want to be kind and loving yourself. Or at least you’ll want to try.”
“But what if I fail? What if I’m not always good?”
“Doesn’t matter to Jesus. Put your faith and trust totally in him and He will wipe away all your failings, your faults, your mistakes …”
“Your sins ,” he said, a bit too smugly.
“Call it that if you like. I think the word has been overused.”
“I don’t get it. All I gotta do is say all that stuff to Jesus and I’m cool?”
“No, you have to say all that stuff to Jesus… and mean it.”
“How will you know if I mean it or not?”
“Like I said, I won’t. But he will.”
“I don’t have to tell everybody I’m a Christian?”
“I don’t have to say it in front of an entire church?”
“I don’t have to tell anyone they’re going to hell?”
“What about the arm waving and all that.”
“You don’t have to wave your arms.”
“Have you ever waved your arms?”
“Sure, when I was dancing. Or hailing a taxi.”
“But not in front of a wad of people in church?”
“Or out on a street corner?”
“So why do some Christians do all that nutty stuff? Especially the finger pointing. I hate that.”
“Forget it. Those people might not even be Christians. Or they might just be really excited about their relationship with Christ. Like the guys who paint themselves blue and red at a football game.”
“I don’t care for them either,” he said.
“It’s not for us to judge.”
“Them either,” he said. “The finger pointers.”
“Ahhh, now you’re getting it.”
He smiled. He didn’t want to, but he did.
“Christ never did anything like that. The finger pointing.”
“Did he paint himself blue and red?”
“Not to my knowledge. He did spend a lot of time with folks who were way off course, in the slums, the bars. But he spoke to them about love and kindness. He didn’t point fingers. I suspect that folks who point fingers don’t really understand what Christ was about when he was here, and what he’s about right now.”
“How do you know all that?”
“I’ve researched some. And I’ve read. And I’ve experienced that love and kindness. I have stories.”
“Back off, now. Don’t start getting weird on me,” he said.
“Love and kindness is weird?”
“No… of course not.” He shrugged. “As long as it’s kept in check.”
“You know what I mean. As long as you don’t get obsessive about it.”
“Are you saying you need a little hate and cruelty to balance?”
“No… no, no. I didn’t say that.”
He sighed. “I… wish I knew.”
“Like I said, Jesus didn’t point fingers, wave arms, or rant and rave. Well… I seem to recall that he got a little uppity with some hypocrites in the synagogue one time. But, never with folks like you or me. He only asks that you trust and love the kindest most loving person who was ever on this earth. I do. And I gave up control of my life to him, and asked him to lead me through this mess down here on earth. And it changed my life.”
“You gave up control of your life??”
“Why would I do that?” he asked.
“I can’t say. I don’t know you that well.”
“Why did you do it?”
“Well, first, as C.S. Lewis says, you have to decide, based upon the weight of evidence, if you believe Jesus was the son of God. And the evidence, the written history, if you read it all, is pretty convincing.”
“I agree that he was apparently an unusually good person. A good and moral teacher.”
“Whoa. Don’t go there,” I said. “C.S. Lewis writes that you’re talking about a guy who was going around for years claiming to forgive all your sins.”
“Unless the speaker is God,” Lewis says, “this is so preposterous as to be comic. In the mouth of any speaker who is not God, these words would imply what can only be regarded as a silliness and conceit unrivaled by any other character in history. A man who was merely a man and said that sort of thing would not be a great moral teacher. He would be a lunatic on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg. Either this man was, and is, the son of God, or a madman. You must make your choice. But let’s not come up with any patronizing nonsense about his simply being a great human teacher. He has not left that door open to us. He did not intend to.”
Lewis continues, “This man we are talking about either was (and is) just what he said, or else a lunatic, or something worse. Now it seems obvious to me that He was neither a lunatic nor a fiend: and consequently, however strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that he was and is God.”
I added, “Make your choice based upon reading about his life, what he had to say, and the relationship he wants to have with you. Not based upon whacky people, finger pointers, television preachers, weird ceremonies, and all the other things with which humans attempt to burden His name. Use the body of evidence, and then, as C. S. Lewis said, make a serious and studied choice.”
Finally he said, “That’s interesting.”
“I highly recommend C.S. Lewis’ book Mere Christianity. The guy’s a brilliant, entertaining writer and I’ve never seen the subject communicated so clearly.”
“I might read it.”
“Here’s a copy,” I said, handing it over.
“It’s all too simple.”
“Trust me, if there’s one thing it’s not, it’s not simple.”
Silence again. Blinking.
“It seems simple, ” he said.
“Think about it. Once you’re in, you are seriously trying to pattern your life after the most perfect life on earth. How simple can that be?”
“But,” I added, “how bad can it be if you get close?”
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