There are moments in Scripture where the closer an individual is to God, the closer he or she is to the dangerous divide between creature and creator. Jesus’ command to be perfect, as Lewis points out in the July 9 reading of A Year with C.S. Lewis, is a reflection of that danger. “I think [Jesus] meant,” he says, “‘The only help I will give is help to become perfect. You may want something less: but I will give you nothing less.'”
Going all the way back to the Garden of Eden, this principle of God’s objective is evident. God hunted for Adam and Eve to redeem them by casting them from the garden and offering an invitation to voluntarily return. And over the course of the biblical narrative, we see God revealing himself for the sake of that same reconciliation: Noah via ark building, Abraham through journey, Sarah from laughing into faith, Jacob by way of broken thievery, Joseph by dreaming, Moses through deliverance, David through the Psalms. In the end, God in the flesh, Jesus, comes to bring the broken to him, the physician, through his own brutal death and bodily resurrection.
Lewis says when we move toward God, it will be like going to the dentist. If we dodge and hesitate to move, our aches will only increase.
Lewis wouldn’t tell his mother about his toothache because he knew it meant fixing it, and that likely meant the pokes and prods of the dentist on other infected teeth. So he hid and endured the pain for a time. It didn’t help. And it doesn’t help when we hesitate to be upturn our lives for Jesus. “Our Lord is like the dentists,” Lewis says. “He will give you the full treatment.”
Jesus doesn’t want a pound of flesh here and there. He wants our whole person: body, mind, and soul. He said that unless we are to die with him, we can have no part in him. What he means is exactly on point with what Lewis says, suggesting words from Jesus, “Whatever suffering it may cost you in your earthly life, whatever inconceivable purification it may cost you after death, whatever it costs Me, I will never rest, nor let you rest, until you are literally perfect––until my Father can say without reservation that He is well pleased with you, as He said He was well pleased with me” (July 10 reading in A Year with C.S. Lewis).
There is a long line of losers, some of whom I referenced above, who recognized they had nothing to give to our Lord except their broken lives. Once we recognize our absolute need, we’ll realize the absolve is found in hiding nothing and surrendering everything.