Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Mere Christianity: Book 3: Chapter 8 (Charity)

Fake it Till You Make it!

In this chapter Lewis focuses more on Charity, or "love".  We've discussed this before in our "forgiveness" post, but we will approach it differently this time.

First, it is important to fervently remind you of what we discovered before--LOVE IS NOT EMOTION. Rather, it is an act of the will, we choose to ACT in love, even when we may not LIKE a person.

This brings me to my main point in this blog post--"fake it until you make it". Psychology study has shown that merely the act of doing or thinking a certain way, can make you feel that way.  If you force yourself to smile, you will be begin to feel happy.  The same goes with love.  Love is not a feeling, true, but it is still EASIER to love those whom we like, and so we should try to ACT as though we like people, and perhaps we will begin to.  This is not fool-proof, for there will always be people that we just don't like, no matter how much we try.

So how do we manifest this love?  I believe showing love to God comes in obedience, and not just because He says "do as I say", but because we desire to please Him through our actions.  In loving other people this may come in the form of obedience (if the request is in not contrary to God's will), but it may also be simple acts of service or sacrifice.  It may simply be spending time with someone who annoys you.

My challenge to you today is to try to consciously do an act of love for someone who you "don't like".

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Mere Christianity: Book 3: Chapter 8 (The Great Sin)

The Pride of Man

In this chapter Lewis describes the greatest sin, the sin that every human person is guilty of--Pride.  The thing about pride, Lewis states, is that for the most part, only Christians (and other religious people I'll amend) think its really a sin.  You'll hear "non-believers" call themselves short-tempered, bad conversationalists, and cowards... but seldom prideful.  The other thing about pride is that the more you have of it, the less you recognize it in yourself, and the more you hate it in others.  A hypocritical sin, that pride.

Why is pride the greatest sin?  Lewis argues that it is the only purely spiritual sin.  All other sins (lust, drunkenness, gluttony) are products of our animal nature.  Pride however, was the sin of Satan, a purely spiritual being, and thus pride is a spiritual sin.  Since our spirits are eternal, spiritual sins are the worst.  As Lewis states, all other sins are "flea-bites" in comparison.

Pride is also the most divisive sin because of its very nature.  Whereas most other sins desire merely to acquire, pride desires to acquire MORE than your neighbor.  Therefore pride, at its very essence is COMPETITIVE.  Furthermore, pride is essentially ENMITY, not only between men, but between God and man.

This poses the question, is competition inherently evil? I don't know the answer to that, and truth be told I'm somewhat biased.  I am a relatively competitive person (ok, I'm VERY competitive), so I would like to think competition is not inherently evil.  Perhaps it's just neutral?  Is there any good product of competition?  Perhaps it could be good when it drives you to be your best without being at the expense of others...

Finally, pride is so evil that Satan often uses it to "cure" us of other sins just so we unknowingly fall into the sin of pride!  How often do we say to ourselves, "I can't smoke/have sex/drink/lie because I am too good of a person for that kind of action", or "I vow not to drink because I don't want people to think of me as weak"?  Newsflash--THOSE ARE PRIDEFUL REASONS FOR NOT SINNING!  The Devil will gladly allow you to move beyond those sins if it means succumbing to pride.  You should be unsinfull because of your love of God and hate of sin, not based on your appearance to others. Radical idea, I know.

What is the only way to conquer pride?  First, acknowledge that you are guilty of it.  Other than that Lewis doesn't give any advice, but I would suspect it has a lot to do with prayer.

So ask yourself today, are you Prideful?