C.S.Lewis: Christian Reward and Christian Desire

Posted: January 29, 2009 by limabean03 in Anglican Communion, Christian Theology, Christianity, Contemporary Theology, The Christian Life

cs-lewisThis sermon was first delivered by C.S. Lewis at St Mary the Virgin, Oxford England in 1942. Curiously enough, I was invited to preach at this church on Matt 27.45-56 in 2006. I can tell you, my sermon was pretty pathetic compared to this one! Lewis’ now famous sermon is well worth a careful read and meditation. Be sure to click through to read it all.

If you asked twenty good men to-day what they thought the highest of the virtues, nineteen of them would reply, Unselfishness. But if you asked almost any of the great Christians of old he would have replied, Love. You see what has happened? A negative term has been substituted for a positive, and this is of more than philological importance. The negative ideal of Unselfishness carries with it the suggestion not primarily of securing good things for others, but of going without them ourselves, as if our abstinence and not their happiness was the important point. I do not think this is the Christian virtue of Love. 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 teh 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 to 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 sea. We are far too easily pleased.

“The Weight of Glory”, Sermon preached by C.S. Lewis on June 8, 1942. Read it all here

Comments
  1. Rich Woollin says:

    Hi Rob,

    I have enjoyed reading this stuff over the long Canadian winter. I suggest 2 more categories that you my of over looked – The Christian struggle told through the parable of the Lyke Wake Walk. And short term trials told through the parable of swimming in a mountain lake in North Wales in April.

  2. […] 1)  The opening few paragraphs of C.S. Lewis’ sermon “The Weight of Glory” won top honors.  It is well worth a read.  In it Lewis outlines one of the most important yet most underutilized aspects of the Christian faith.  Namely, that Christian faith should make you happy!  Read it here […]

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