Which Came First?

C. S. Lewis wrote of Jesus’ command in Matthew 5:48: “When He said, ‘Be perfect,’ He meant it. He meant that we must go in for the full treatment. It is hard; but the sort of compromise we are all hankering after is harder—in fact, it is impossible. It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.”

Some new believers, though they are still spiritually embryonic, try to fly with the eagles. But, isn’t spiritual aspiration a good thing?

Picture that egg for a moment, with little, pin-feathered wings sticking out, flapping for all they’re worth. If it does succeed in working its way out of the nest, it will hit the ground, hard, probably injuring itself so it’ll never be able to fly. That is a “fowl” portrait of new believers whose initial enthusiasm pushes them into ministry before they even begin to mature spiritually. Their crash to the ground won’t be gravity’s work, but that of their own uncrucified carnality, powered by pride.

Trouble is, pastors and other leaders are gleefully complicit with those “flapping eggs'” jumping from the nest. They succumb to the temptation of tying new believers into the church ministry, partly in hopes of cementing them into the fellowship, and partly from wanting to exploit their natural abilities. While those innate abilities are a handy resource, they are no substitute for true spiritual gifts, which are only discovered through the process of maturing in the Lord.

But Lewis was also right in the opposite respect: “We must be hatched or go bad.” The opposite of the “flapping eggs” issue is the “comfortable embryo,” that doesn’t want to hatch. After all, why break out of that snug, secure egg shell when others are willing to do the hard work of ministry? But little does that (eternally?) secure embryo realize that it will soon die for lack of nourishment. Oh, it’ll still look sound on the outside, while inside it’s all moldering flesh.

Those are the “ditches” that straddle Christ’s straight and narrow Way, the only way to the Father. Walk in it, and be truly secure.


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