C.S. Lewis Asks, Do You Have Rats In Your Basement?

cartoon-rat

Honestly, this has little to do with rats or basements, as you’ve probably already guessed. But it has a lot to do with … well, I’ll let Uncle Jack clarify the issue:

We begin to notice, besides our particular sinful acts, our sinfulness; begin to be alarmed not only about what we do, but about what we are. This may sound rather difficult, so I will try to make it clear from my own case. When I come to my evening prayers and try to reckon up the sins of the day, nine times out of ten the most obvious one is some sin against charity; I have sulked or snapped or sneered or snubbed or stormed. And the excuse that immediately springs to my mind is that the provocation was so sudden and unexpected; I was caught off my guard, I had not time to collect myself. Now that may be an extenuating circumstance as regards those particular acts: they would obviously be worse if they had been deliberate and premeditated. On the other hand, surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of a man he is? Surely what pops out before the man has time to put on a disguise is the truth? If there are rats in a cellar you are most likely to see them if you go in very suddenly. But the suddenness does not create the rats: it only prevents them from hiding. In the same way the suddenness of the provocation does not make me an ill-tempered man; it only shows me what an ill-tempered man I am. The rats are always there in the cellar, but if you go in shouting and noisily they will have taken cover before you switch on the light.
From C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity

One concept that often confuses people is “sins” versus “sin.” Sins(plural form) are simply acts that are contrary to God’s expressed will, whether or not anybody sees you do them. Some clever preacher came up with a catchy phrase about the two kinds of sinful acts: “Sins of commission, and sins of omission,” but differentiating them isn’t always easy. Sins of omission often cause sins of commission because the sinner has neglected the necessary preparation to resist temptation. It’s the old “If I had done this, I wouldn’t have done that.”

Sin(singular form), however, isn’t just one sinful act. It’s the condition humans are born into ever since that fateful day when the first humans first tried to stick it to God. We’ve all seen “fails” videos, but that was the first, and the worst, fail of all. Can you imagine how Adam felt when he realized God wouldn’t accept his cop-out? I’d say it involved the world’s first, and worst, blush. Ever since then we’ve all tried to put one over on God, whether it’s trying to con him with our lame excuses, or simply ignoring him while alleging that he doesn’t exist.

Here’s a clue: your snubbing God doesn’t hurt his feelings. And you don’t have to be an atheist to snub God. Many who claim to be Christians routinely snub him, by refusing to take their feelings, their faults, and their failures to him in prayer.

And speaking—or writing—of prayer, there’s confusion about it, similar to the confusion about sin; prayer, and prayers, aren’t the same thing. “Saying ones prayers,” implies a deliberate, one-time or routine act of devotion to God. And that’s a great thing as far as it goes. But God said he wants us to “pray without ceasing.” Fortunately, he didn’t mean we have to constantly kneel beside our beds praying. It’s much more subtle than that. He meant we need to always see, think, and do things in a way that will allow us to go to him in prayer at any instant. It’s like walking with your loved one; you won’t always have things to say at any given moment, but just being with him or her comforts and affirms you. That’s what relationship is all about.

 

Proud of Being White?

AWHMI followed a link to a Facebook page called, “American White History Month.” On it, I found a slogan with which I, though about as white as one can be, cannot agree. With it, however, I found a true statement, which I will quote first, “Never apologize for being white.”

I’ve done many things during my sixty-eight years for which I could indeed apologize, but why would I apologize for being what God made me? That would be like apologizing for being male, or human. Though males and whites, indeed, all humans, do despicable things, we don’t do them because we are a particular sex or color; we do them because we are sinful.

The second slogan on that page proclaims far more than its creators realize. “Proud of our race and heritage,” seems dangerously close to taking credit for God’s creative work. We didn’t choose to be born white, and of European heritage, so how can we be proud of that? We can certainly be glad of it, and thankful for it, just as people of color can be glad and thankful for who they are. Following, are Bible passages that deal with pride and its consequences:

Ephesians 5:15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21

1 Thessalonians 5:15 See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies, 21 but test everything; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.

1 Timothy 4:4 For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.

Pride in something, and gratitude for it, are antithetical, if at once, one takes credit for it, and gives credit for it. So, which will it be? The passages above, and many more, command gratitude, but never does God’s Word tell us to take pride in what he gave us; even though we may have worked hard for something, or even invented it, we didn’t create it. Such pride is most certainly one form of evil.

As for our heritage, we are a nation born of Christian principles, and that, according to our Constitution’s Establishment Clause, is where our national Christianity ends. As Premier Obama said, America was never a Christian nation. Fact is, we can take pride in no nation governed by fallen human beings, as everything they do is based in sin, even if it seems noble. But we can, and must, remain thankful for it.