From Mere Christianity to the Church

I’m rereading C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity and once again I’m struck by his clear thinking and relevance for today. Lewis was known for promoting a “mere Christianity”. He believed he was called to speak to those outside the church about what made up basic Christianity rather than speak to the differences between churches (Lewis was an Anglican. There were some who wanted him to speak more about the differences he had with the Catholic church).

Because of this, many people mistakenly think Lewis was one who promoted a basic Christianity in which we do away with denominations and just focus on Jesus and the beliefs we have in common. Lewis actually thought it was important to move beyond mere Christianity and join a particular church. Here’s how he described it:

“I hope no reader will suppose that “mere” Christianity is here put forward as an alternative to the creeds of the existing communions …. It is more like a hall out of which doors open into several rooms. If I can bring anyone into that hall I shall have done what I attempted. But it is in the rooms, not in the hall, that there are fires and chairs and meals. The hall is a place to wait in, a place from which to try the various doors, not a place to live in.” (Mere Christianity, p. 11).
The hall is a fine place to enter the building, but to stay in the hall is to miss the heart of Christianity lived out in a particular community called the church.

Keep Perspective in Your Fight Against Sin

Anyone who attempts to be free of a sin habit knows it’s an uphill battle. This world provides the higher ground for the enemy, giving him the advantage. Your sin nature serves as a traitor within who undermines your fight. Your enemy far surpasses you in experience as he has been stealing, killing, and destroying far longer than you’ve been alive.

By way of perspective, two truths to keep in mind …

  1. You have a sin nature. Your sin nature insures you will never be completely free from sin in this life. In this life you walk with Christ aware of a weight that slows you down and trips you up and wearies your soul. At times the weight of your sin nature feels lighter, other times heavier, but know it will always be present in this life.
  2. You will be free from sin. When you see Jesus face to face you will be like Him. Your sin nature will finally be destroyed. You will walk in pure freedom with Christ, no longer hindered by sin.

We hinder our fight against sin when we focus on only our sin nature or only on the freedom to come. Focusing on our sin nature can lead to a passive acceptance of sin that accepts its presence as normal in this life.

Focusing on the freedom to come can lead to a perfectionism that sees every sin as evidence we’re not really walking with Christ. The goal becomes the absence of all sin as evidence we’ve truly matured in our faith.

We live in an in-between time. Sin no longer rules as our master, but we still retain our sin nature. Its been dethroned, but not yet destroyed. As such, we can experience a greater freedom from particular sins. But even here be warned: As you fight against sin, and Christ grants you victory over particular sins, you find yourself in a new place on the battlefield which gives you a new view. The new view reveals sin you never before saw. You’re not worse than you were, but you’re more aware of sin in your life. This isn’t defeat, but the slow grind of victory as you take on more deeply ingrained strongholds of sin.