The Weight of Glory
I am a huge fan of C.S. Lewis and have read almost everything he has written. I discovered Mere Christianity and the Chronicles of Narnia when I was 19 and in the Navy. A Grief Observed helped me through some of my own grieving processes and is a book I have frequently given to others when they have lost a loved one. There is little doubt that my enthusiasm for Lewis is shared by many other Christians as his books still sell quite well decades after he has passed away. However, I think that perhaps one of his most profound works is one that is still relatively unknown. It is a sermon he preached in the Church of St. Mary the Virgin at Oxford in 1942 entitled The Weight of Glory. If you have not read this, I would encourage you to do so. While I hope to eventually cover most of this sermon in future posts, today, I want to focus on the opening part of this sermon as the inspiration for this blog.
The sermon begins with a defense of desire. He makes the case that we have forgotten how important desire is to the Christian life. He states,
If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures fooling around with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.1
I think Lewis has hit upon something that we all desperately need to hear and think about in this day and age. What are we focusing our desires on?
At this point, it would be easy to lapse into a diatribe against our culture’s current obsessions with sexual freedom, power, money, fame, possessions, etc. In reality, desire for those things is not necessarily evil in and of itself. It is a good thing to desire your spouse. If one wants to affect any kind of change in this world, at least some amount of power is going to have to be obtained and exercised. The trouble starts when these things become the focal point(s) of our desire. From a biblical perspective, what you most desire ultimately becomes your focus of worship—your idols. These idols can never permanently satisfy us, and all of them will ultimately let us down. However, Scripture tells us that we will only find our heart’s true home and satisfaction of our deepest desires and needs when we focus our hearts on Jesus. We need to cultivate a passion for His passions, desire what He desires—focus our desire on obtaining a deeper and more vital relationship with Him—and we will find that our desires for these other things will take their proper places.