Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Aiming high - or not at all - In Other Words

                                          "Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in.  Aim at earth and you will get neither." 
C.S. Lewis         

It is just this kind of down to earth (no pun intended) declaration that makes C.S. Lewis so readable.  That is no small feat, given that he was, in fact, a towering intellectual who spoke four or five languages fluently, and was both a college professor and a best-selling author.  How then did he manage to strike just that note in so many of his writings that still resonates with us today, nearly half a century after his death in 1963?

I would suggest that one reason is because of the devastating honesty in his writings.  I say "devastating" because, quite frankly, some of his statements and opinions are not for the faint-hearted.  To take Lewis at his word, is to risk acute discomfort in some of one's own dearly held ideas.       

Today's quote is one case-in-point.  When we "aim at earth", in other words make fulfilling earthly desires our primary objective in life, it will likely result in either abject failure or empty achievement; and what is worse, that very humanistic selfishness will cost us heaven as well.  That, my friend, is pretty stern stuff.

I strongly suspect, however, that Lewis had a friend named Jesus, who not only agreed with Lewis on this principle, but had been his teacher regarding this concept in the first place.

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (heaven) and all the other things shall be added unto you. (earth thrown in)  Matthew 6: 33

Easier said than done.

From our earliest recollection, we are encouraged to "aim at the earth" - to attempt to obtain what we want, or what others expect from us.  Good grades, athletic achievements, outstanding talent demonstrations, prizes, honors, accolades.  Those begin in youth, and when older we move on to striving for better jobs, then promotions, bigger houses, and the finer things in life, in general.

But in Isaiah 55: 2 the question is asked, "Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy?"

... your labor on what does not satisfy - sounds like aiming at earth to me.

How do we "aim for heaven" exactly?  What does that look like when we live it out?  I am fairly sure it is not about pious looks, or spouting lots of memorized verses.

I believe we aim for heaven when we simply go about our daily lives as though Jesus were involved in and concerned about everything we do, and say, and need, and even those things we secretly wish for (the desires of our hearts).  Because guess what?  He is involved and He is concerned, about all of it!

What an amazing thing to contemplate.  The master of the universe cares about our hopes and dreams, our fears and anxieties, our loves and losses.  Not just about all of us collectively, as though we were some kind of spiritual collector's set of matching cups and saucers.  But rather he cares deeply about each of us individually.  Calvary was personal.

So, then, let us aim for heaven and we will most assuredly find that God has thrown in the earth as well.  After all, "For God so loved the world that He gave..."

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