Friday, August 5, 2011

First Religious Experience

My mother's death was the occasion of what some (but not I) might regard as my first religious experience. When her case was pronounced hopeless I remembered what I had been taught; that prayers offered in faith would be granted. I accordingly set myself to produce by will power a firm belief that my prayers for her recovery would be successful; and, as I thought, I achieved it. When nevertheless she died I shifted my ground and worked myself into a belief that there was to be a miracle. The interesting thing is that my disappointment produced no results beyond itself. The thing hadn't worked, but I was used to things not working, and I thought no more about it. I think the truth is that the belief into which I had hypnotized myself was itself too irreligious for its failure to cause any religious revolution. I had approached God, or my idea of God, without love, without awe, even without fear. He was, in my mental picture of this miracle, to appear neither as Savior nor as Judge, but merely as a magician; and when He had done what was required of Him I supposed He would simply---well, go away. It never crossed my mind that the tremendous contact which I solicited should have any consequences beyond restoring the status quo. I imagine that a "faith" of this kind is often generated in children and that its disappointment is of no religious importance; just as the things believed in, if they could happen and be only as the child pictures them, would be of no religious importance either.
--C.S. Lewis, Surprised By Joy, pp. 20-21 (emphasis mine)

C.S. Lewis mentions that this kind of "faith" is often generated in children. He would change his mind if he lived in this generation--this kind of faith seems to be the primary kind of people young and old.

The despair of false faith is that it's false enough that it can't detect its own falseness. There is no real expectation of result, so any disappointment seems normal and consequently there is no conversion. Many give up on God because he doesn't fulfill their wishes (as if he were a genie), but they never really expected him to do anything to begin with. There is no true belief. There is no faith.

This theme is the second most common problem in relating to God. The first and most severe problem with every single person is utter rebellion against the rule of God. From Adam and Eve down to you and me, every single human being who was not Jesus Christ has actively rebelled against the Creator. But for many that appear to turn back to him, they don't want to follow God, they want God to follow them. The Bible shows this often, from the wandering Israelites, Balak, King Saul, to the seven sons of Sceva. There are no lack of examples. Today, many preachers make a living teaching this message through a (sometime subtle) prosperity gospel. And if we were all to evaluate our lives, we would see signs of this creeping into parts of our heart.

God can do awesome, miraculous wonders in our lives (Matthew 7:7-11). Is your heart aligned with God's will? Do you want what God wants, or do you expect God to want what you want? Do you genuinely believe that God works in his creation, inside you, changes hearts and moves mountains?
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. (James 1:5-8 ESV)

No comments:

Post a Comment