Looming uncertainty. Unwanted pain. Doubting of truths once trusted. Struggling world economies. Promised but paling world peace. Questions tumbling around in minds unsure where to look for answers.
Does that sound familiar? Well, I think it sounds like our time, but, interestingly enough, I’m discovering all of those statements could be said about England seventy-some years ago as it entered World War II.
Perhaps we like to think our struggles are unique to us. Some of us might even like to feel sorry for ourselves. It seems sometimes Christians (of various backgrounds) especially like to think that the “badness” of their time is the worst it’s ever been because that might mean Jesus is going to come again soon and sweep His people into heaven – and away from pain, sorrow and loss – with Him.
While I think looking forward to the return of Christ is a wonderful (and good!) thing, for anyone who has studied history there’s a problem with thinking the timing is based on present problems: Life has been downright horrible time and again. If anyone had a right to think life couldn’t get any worse, it would be the people getting bombed in London or the people living in Germany during Hitler’s reign…and many thousands throughout the centuries before them. And did the world end? Apparently not.
The upside to there having been struggles in the past is that Christians can learn from how the Church faced those challenges. Take the religious branch of the BBC during WWII for example. They faced a question not unlike the church faces today.
How can the church meet a hurting people where they are and show that Christianity is for real life including all the pain?
Enter Clive Staples Lewis or C.S. Lewis or even Jack as his friends would call him.
He was a man acquainted with pain, having lost his mother at a young age and having served in WWI. He had once been a skilled skeptic of Christianity but became one of its greatest advocates. And although he was a university professor, he managed to reach the British people via the “wireless” in a way that common people could appreciate even as they managed ration cards, hid in bomb shelters, wrestled with ideologies like nationalism and Communism and heard that their loved ones were never coming home.
But it didn’t all come easy to him.
In fact, his first attempt at speaking to a group of British soldiers on Christianity was decidedly disappointing.
However, thanks to some encouragement, he didn’t give up there. And from his labors grew a modern classic called Mere Christianity.
I haven’t finished the book C.S. Lewis & Mere Christianity: The Crisis That Created a Classic yet, but I have listened to the companion radio threatre drama C.S. at War, and I think there are several tips we can all gain from the life of C.S. Lewis.
- He kept learning, even from his own failures.
- He had the humility to let his radio talks be edited and revised.
- He sought counsel.
- He genuinely cared for people.
- And it was the Lord Who made his efforts successful.
Maybe if we want to move forward well in 2016 – both looking forward to Christ’s return and living well in the meantime – we need to take some time to look backward. After all, on this earth, some things could very well be timeless.
1 1Paul McCusker, C.S. Lewis & Mere Christianity: The Crisis That Created a Classic. Focus on the Family (Colorado Springs, 2014), pgs. 30-31.
2Ibid., pg. 105.