When we think of religion we might turn to a set of rules that, if followed, will produce a sense of order and satisfaction. We may also view religion as an aim to experience a particular feeling or emotion through a variety of means. But Christianity is not chiefly about rules nor about emotion; it’s about a certain death that brings us into life.
In his chapter, “Check” in Surprised by Joy, Lewis explores his senses in coming to Christianity. He saw the materialistic world as finite (with “limited liabilities”) and he liked it. “Death ended all,” he says, but, “The horror of the Christian universe was that it had no door marked Exit.”
What does he mean? It’s something we all wrestle with, whether we know it or not. We might substitute the word materialism for individualism but it’s the same shake-my-fist-at-heaven posture that shouts, “Leave me alone!” Lewis says he felt, “outrage that I had been created without my own permission.”
Lewis labeled it correctly. He said it’s really our hatred of the word Interference–our “hatred of authority, monstrous individualism, and lawlessness.”* In other words, Christ comes in and make a wreck of our soul. “There was no region even in the innermost depths of one’s soul”, Lewis realized, “which one could surround with a barbed wire fence and guard with a notice No Admittance.”
If we’re honest, that’s what we want–an area that we can call our own, free from heavenly interference or invasion. We might only want order or good feelings, but the Gospel is piercing, not only into our souls, but also the whole world, inside and out.
The truth that God is in the animation of our lives and of the world that brought real Joy to Lewis. His was a conversion from the pale magic stories of literature to the bright magic story of Jesus as God incarnate. Yours might be another discovery as God opened up your life to his truth. Lewis says,
I did not break from the woods and cottages that I read of to seek some bodiless light shining beyond them, but gradually, with a swelling continuity (like the sun at mid-morning burning through a fog) I found the light shining on those woods and cottages, and then on my own past life, and on the quiet room where I sat and on my old teacher where he nodded above his little Tacitus. (This after finding McDonald’s Phantestes)
Simply put, Lewis and the world he knew were baptized. When we finally get to the “Checkmate”, his concluding chapter in Surprised by Joy, he “leaps in the dark,” and “gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed.” May we find ourselves weighted down by such moments of conviction that lead into conversion.
*The exact quote personalizes these to Lewis himself–”my hatred of authority, my monstrous individualism, and my lawlessness.”