For the power of Man to make himself what he pleases means, as we have seen, the power of some men to make other men what they please. C.S. Lewis
To take this thought further, to bring it into today, men may also make religion into what they please. And isn’t this our present dilemma? Haven’t we attempted to subdue faith to our way of thinking, watered it down to acceptability and fairness as we see it? Haven’t we weighted one Christian virtue at the expense of another? Today’s thinking applied, there are no prodigal sons.
It’s as if we have taken an incredibly old, large oak tree, cut it down, whittled away its bark and rings until the shavings are swept from the floor and all is left is a fine walking cane fitting nicely in our hands to serve us as we will. The oak once commanded our respect for its age, its beauty, its enduring striving persistence both against and with nature, and now succumbs to our industry, reduced to a single word, useful.
I should say this another way. Man has, by his own device and misuse, relinquished the meaning of words. As an example, we should, with all the fanfare we can muster, retire the much-overused word, awesome. If everything is awesome, nothing is awesome, and the word then has no meaning save only our intent for now. The truly awe-inspiring objects become reduced to the level of the ordinary. The sunset evoking within us God’s power and gift now becomes the same as an egg salad sandwich.
That the word love is invoked often these days and we don’t love as we say, the word sin has disappeared from discussion and we sin much. To live a life without guilt appears to be the goal and our only response is to shrug our shoulders. As culture conflates itself with Christian faith, a hybrid understanding injects itself. A faith of love and forgiveness without atonement and redemption is something different altogether.
In Galatians, Paul says, “I am not trying to win the approval of men, but of God. If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10).
Because sin has an expedient, now quality, any reframe of sin or faith satisfying our convenience forgets eternity. Earning grace is not a consideration, but how should I escape being manipulated if I do not inform myself and practice the very faith I profess with every intent? In and through God’s love, atonement and redemption demand from me as much as the commandments to love God and neighbor.
I may feign worthiness among men, but not in the presence of God. Even the prodigal son knew this.
But once our souls, that is ourselves, have been given up, the power thus conferred will not belong to us. We shall in fact be the slaves and puppets of that to which we have given our souls. C.S. Lewis
“Those who have ears to hear, let them hear” (Matthew 11:15, NKJV).