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Wednesday, February 15 2012
The Offer of Infinite Joy...
Mark Twain once observed that, "An ethical man is a Christian holding four aces." Whether we agree with Twain's assertion or not, it is true that all too often the Christian faith is portrayed as kind of "pie in the sky" where people deny themselves here on earth for some kind of rewards in the life to come. As I write this, I am reminded of the late agnostic Christopher Hitchens, who reassured the watching public in his interview with Anderson Cooper on his show, "360," that if he had a "deathbed conversion," then it really wasn't him, and that the whole Pascalian Wager about God's existence was all, in his words, "rubbish."
Yet C.S. Lewis reminds us that the question before us is, "Is there really 'pie in the sky' or not." Lewis suggests in one of the greatest talks he ever gave, "The Weight of Glory," that we have no way of fully grasping the infinite bounty of reward that awaits us in the Age to Come. The following quote, taken from Lewis's "The Weight of Glory," suggests that indeed, our desires here on earth may very well be too weak to fathom the marvelous things that await us in the afterlife.
From The Weight of Glory:
"The New Testament has lots to say about self-denial, but not about self-denial as an end in itself. We are told to deny ourselves and to take up our crosses in order that we may follow Christ; and nearly every description of what we shall ultimately find if we do so contains an appeal to desire. If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased."
-Do you agree with Mark Twain's observation? Why or why not?
-What do you think made Hitchens so entrenched in his unbelief?
-What motivates us to live for Heaven?
-If we really believed that an amazing life awaits us beyond this temporal world, how would we live our lives differently now?
I'd love to get your thoughts on this. Please share your observations below...
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