Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Thoughts on Heaven #2: The Weight of Glory

Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. -2 Corinthians 4:16-18

As we are thinking of heaven together, C.S. Lewis' famous sermon, "The Weight of Glory", is defnintely worth a read. Here's a quote releated to our longing for heaven. . . .

In speaking of this desire for our own faroff country, which we find in ourselves even now, I feel a certain shyness. I am almost committing an indecency. I am trying to rip open the inconsolable secret in each one of you—the secret which hurts so much that you take your revenge on it by calling it names like Nostalgia and Romanticism and Adolescence; the secret also which pierces with such sweetness that when, in very intimate conversation, the mention of it becomes imminent, we grow awkward and affect to laugh at ourselves; the secret we cannot hide and cannot tell, though we desire to do both. We cannot tell it because it is a desire for something that has never actually appeared in our experience. We cannot hide it because our experience is constantly suggesting it, and we betray ourselves like lovers at the mention of a name. Our commonest expedient is to call it beauty and behave as if that had settled the matter. Wordsworth’s expedient was to identify it with certain moments in his own past. But all this is a cheat. If Wordsworth had gone back to those moments in the past, he would not have found the thing itself, but only the reminder of it; what he remembered would turn out to be itself a remembering. The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things—the beauty, the memory of our own past—are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.

Do you think I am trying to weave a spell? Perhaps I am; but remember your fairy tales. Spells are used for breaking enchantments as well as for inducing them. And you and I have need of the strongest spell that can be found to wake us from the evil enchantment of worldliness which has been laid upon us for nearly a hundred years. Almost our whole education has been directed to silencing this shy, persistent, inner voice; almost all our modem philosophies have been devised to convince us that the good of man is to be found on this earth. And yet it is a remarkable thing that such philosophies of Progress or Creative Evolution themselves bear reluctant witness to the truth that our real goal is elsewhere. When they want to convince you that earth is your home, notice how they set about it. They begin by trying to persuade you that earth can be made into heaven, thus giving a sop to your sense of exile in earth as it is. Next, they tell you that this fortunate event is still a good way off in the future, thus giving a sop to your knowledge that the fatherland is not here and now. . . . Do what they will, then, we remain conscious of a desire which no natural happiness will satisfy.

Here's a link to a PDF version whole essay. . . .enjoy!

The Weight of Glory

1 comment:

bob eckman said...

What a wonderful writing from C.S. Lewis! I would encourage others to wade through and discover its richness...
When we contemplate heaven, usually our minds tend to focus on the external, ie. the recreating of the earth, new bodies, generally the physical realm we are so familiar with. On page 7 Lewis describes our "...longing to be acknowledged...", not often part of our discussion about heaven but nevertheless relevant to it. He calls it the "...inconsolable secret." So much of our energy goes into our longing to be accepted by significant people, to be liked and brought into the inner circle. And who really wants to admit this sort of thing?! Certainly not me, but how I know the ugly reality of this "pain". However, our pursuit of this in life only ends in disappointment and becomes hollow at best and seems deeply lacking. If I am reading C.S. Lewis correctly, acceptance with God only will satisfy this longing and not necessarily in this lifetime. This is where heaven comes in. It is finally in heaven where we will be "noticed by God" and that solely based upon the merits of Christ. What a humbling and wonderful thought this is. As Lewis says, "The door on which we have been knocking all our lives will open at last." "Well done good and faithful servant."