The Weight of Glory – C.S. Lewis
Air is necessary. Without air you and I will die. Food is necessary. If we go without food for too long we most surely starve to death. Water is necessary. If we forego water for long enough we will dehydrate, pass out and, eventually, we will die.
For the Christian, Scripture is as necessary as all of this.
On the other hand, there are things that are important, but not necessary.
Relationship is important, but it is not necessary; we will not die for lack of family or friends. There are people who have lived a great many years in isolation and have not died. Life is, however, inarguably richer and more delightful when lived in meaningful relationship with others.
Similarly, music, literature, entertainment is important. Are any of these things necessary in the same way oxygen, food and water might be considered necessary? No, absolutely not. But all these things contribute to a life which is satisfying, pleasant and fulfilled.
For the believer in Christ, Scripture is necessary in order to know God and live the life he has called us to live.
There are things that fall short of Scripture that although not necessary, are hugely beneficial to the Christian life.
Sermons by gifted and godly bible teachers can be downloaded and listened to and, in so doing, we can receive teaching that is hugely beneficial in helping us understand the word of God and how it applies to our lives.
Biographies and the testimonies of saints that have gone before us encourage us to persevere when faced with hardship and trial.
So to, there are books written by godly Christians that are hugely helpful in our study of Scripture, our growth in maturity and in our pursuit of Christ.
And so now, I think, you will understand me when I write that C.S. Lewis’ essay, The Weight of Glory is an important text and should be read by Christians everywhere.
Lewis’ great essay begins with the recognition that the great decision every human being must face is where we will find our delight. And indeed, Lewis understands that the Christian walk is a pursuit of happiness, fulfilment and delight. In perhaps the most famous passage of this essay, Lewis addresses the place of desire in our relationship with Christ,
…if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that the 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 to 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 by the sea. We are far too easily pleased.
I remember reading The Weight of Glory for the first time (I have re-read it many times since) and being shocked at the notion that Christ calls us to desire passionately, and pursue reward, infinite joy and pleasure.
Lewis, however, unpacks his theme with such skill and biblical faithfulness that we see that happiness, pleasure, glory and value are all found and satisfied in Christ. The Christian ambition is, Lewis argues, a proper ambition, because the reward is the consummation of the activity of desiring and pursuing. We desire and pursue Christ and our reward, naturally, is that we gain Christ.
Lewis’ call is, therefore, essentially the gospel call urging people to seek, desire, glory in and find ultimate pleasure in the Son of God who gave himself for us.
But more than this, Lewis calls us to look forward to the glory that will be ours when we are with Him.
This is why The Weight of Glory is such an important text. Lewis understands that because Christ is ultimate, our desire for him should be paramount and because our joy on that day will be infinite, our hope should be centred on the assurance that we will be with Him. Lewis’s intent, therefore, is to paint a most glorious picture of all He is and all we have, all that we are – and will be – in Him.
But Lewis’ intent is pastoral; he understands that ‘the cross comes before the crown’. The recognition that we are called to desire and pursue Jesus Christ changes evangelism, instead of focusing upon correcting behaviour we instead publicly proclaim and celebrate the glory of the Son of God trusting that as men and women see Him as He truly is, hearts would turn from lesser things to the greatest thing.
And discipleship becomes altogether more than abstention and self denial. Rather, true disciples are urged to behold the Son of God and, as we do so, our hearts yearn to know Him more deeply and follow Him more faithfully.
The Weight of Glory is an important text and should be read (and re-read) and pondered deeply by believers everywhere.
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