October 20, 2008 Leave a comment
It is a terrible thing that the worst of all the vices can smuggle itself into the very centre of our religious life. But you can see why. The other, and less bad, vices come from the devil working on us through our animal nature. But this does not come through our animal nature at all. It comes direct from Hell. It is purely spiritual: consequently it is far more subtle and deadly… — CS Lewis on Pride
No, the title of this post is not in reference to any racial identity movement, but rather to what Lewis references in the above quote from his classic, Mere Christianity.
It is in reference to the sickening and soul-sucking sense of superiority one feels upon hearing the consequences that result from the poor choices of others.
Yesterday, our youth pastor (JB) came in from the bullpen and preached a stirring sermon on a familiar story, Jesus’ parable of the so-called prodigal son.
JB described the older son in the parable, who couldn’t bring himself to celebrate his younger brother’s return from the figurative dead, as the son who wanted nothing more than to please his dad, by abstaining from as many things as humanly possible. He followed the description by faux applause.
With this son, it was about externals, the easy way to perdition, as the unrepentant Pharisees Jesus scolded came to find out.
Personally, at this point in my A.D. life, I find myself more like the older son. As JB aptly observed, “maybe we have forgotten what it’s like without God.”
To a large extent I think I have. I have forgotten what it is like outside of God’s special grace. The unregenerate state remains, in my worst times, as some sort of bad dream, a past life.
In a real sense it is, for the regenerate are new creations, but should genuine gratitude be a casualty of such introspection?
For example, when we hear stories of people who, let us not mince words, are steeped in very visible sins and thus have stark visible consequences, does our self-image swell to Hutt-like (below) proportions.
Upon hearing stories of brokenness in the lives of unregenerate (or otherwise) people do we make our hands ache with unrelenting back-patting?
“Thank you that I’m not like…” or so the Pharisee’s hideous and haunting line goes…
This should not be, this is nothing more than the darkest, blackest, and most diabolical sort of pride.
This is the sinful nature making an attempt to reclaim the broken shores which Grace has already firmly planted His Banner on.
Though as the Apostle points out, we ought to forget what lies behind and strain towards what lies ahead, may we remember that we were in the place of the younger son. To a much lesser extent we may even feel we still are in those now forgiven moments when we do fall short.
Dead. We were there with the younger son. D-E-A-D. Covered in mud from head-to-toe (and nursing a sprained ankle, sorry couldn’t lay off the predictable Batman reference) after a lifetime of wallowing with the pigs.
We were there with the younger son, utterly convinced that the Great Pumpkin of self-autonomy does exist, it certainly does not.
We were there, until God by His Grace at His perfect time, chose to awaken our spirits to, in the words of JB, “the fact [that] we need Him”.