Monday, January 19, 2009

Learning in Wartime

Why do not all Christians become missionaries and why do not all citizens become soldiers in war? C. S. Lewis addresses questions such as these in his essay entitled “Learning in Wartime.” He first begins by illuminating the fact that war is simply a pinnacle of the permanent human condition. We are always quarreling and arguing, war just makes the quarreling blatant and obvious to all. In fact, Lewis writes, there are always distractions. Life is and has never been normal since the fall. Excuses will always exist for as to why we should or should not do something. The same can be applied to Christians and their choice of careers. Why are not all Christians pastors and missionaries? Perhaps the reason is because we often see these positions of Christianity as highest and most holy. They deal directly with God and the faith. This is our mistake. We limit ourselves and forget about the ordinary parts of life that need redeeming, where we can also reach out in faith. Pastoring and Missions are only pinnacles and specialized vocations in Christianity just as soldiers are in war.

Often times we feel as if conversion must be some grand experience, that it must be life changing and inspire all sorts of revivals in our life. We want conversion to be a highlight a period from black to white, secular to sacred. However, often this ideal conversion is found to be nonexistent in our lives. We do experience changes in our lives and revivals, but not always on the grand scale that we desire. C. S. Lewis writes that “I do not think I fully realized that one’s life, after conversion, would inevitably consist in doing most of the same things one had been doing before.” Conversion is a process. We hope for the same things, but now in a new spirit. We do many of the same things, but with a different attitude and motivation. Instead of a huge show, our conversion is often gradual. It starts by transforming us from the inside out.

At the end of his essay, C. S. Lewis begins to assert that each person has his or her own vocation and sphere of influence. I believe that he would agree with Plantinga where each Christian is acting in a kingdom within another kingdom. We each have a special job to do. God does not place in our hearts appetites in vain. Instead, we must work in humility for a greater God, a greater purpose than we may perceive now. C. S. Lewis writes, “But if we thought that for some souls, and at some times, the life of learning, humbly offered to God, was, in its own small way, one of the appointed approaches to the Divine reality and the Divine beauty which we hope to enjoy hereafter, we can think so still.”

Each of us must present our lives and work as a humble offering for the advancement of God’s kingdom. We do this in our own ways, no matter how small or large, grand or hidden. We are not attempting to build up a heaven here on earth, but rather serve as pilgrims spurring one another and creation on to a new permanent city.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Mark,

    Good development of reading!
    What profound truths, what immense world for action, what infinite responsibility to bring the light of “God’s Grace” to a fallen world.
    Missionaries? Some with banners, others with hands too full of work for God’s Kingdom to be aware of whom they are, serving in ‘diaconia’, ‘didascalia’ and ‘poimenia’. However, one characteristic is common to them all: humility in service, strength of character woven in a deep love for their neighbor! Let’s find those servants and follow them!
    God Bless,
    Adriana & Paulo