In light of my previous post, Who Am I? I Am a Member of Christ’s Body, I feel it necessary to elaborate a little longer on the subject of being members of one another. I actually stumbled upon this quote on my Twitter feed after my first post this morning and it is the most relevant quote from C.S. Lewis.
“The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbor’s glory should be laid daily on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it.”
This quote actually comes from a sermon by Lewis and his book, The Weight of Glory. This is relevant to the body of Christ. I say this because if we look at the New Testament we cannot deny that believers are to be united together, loving one another, and serving one another.
Let me share a larger chunk of C.S. Lewis’ words.
It may be possible for each to think too much of his own potential glory hereafter; it is hardly possible for him to think too often or too deeply about that of his neighbor. The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbor’s glory should be laid daily on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken.
It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare.
All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal.
Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations -these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.
This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously – no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption. And our charity must be a real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner – no mere tolerance, or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment. Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses. If he is your Christian neighbor, he is holy in almost the same way, for in him also Christ vere latitat– the glorifier and the glorified, Glory Himself is truly hidden.
[quote from The Weight of Glory, by C.S. Lewis. Lewis delivered this sermon at Oxford University Church of St. Mary the Virgin, on June 8, 1941. It was originally published in January, 1942.]
We will never meet a person, especially a Christian, who is ordinary. God has blessed each believer differently. He has distributed unto all Christians spiritual gifts. Is that what makes them unordinary though? Maybe, but I think a better explanation, as seen from Lewis, is that each person the believer comes into contact with is “immortal” in a sense. Not that people will never die. This is not what Lewis means by immortal. The curse of sin is that we all will die. But, there is life after death. Whether that is life in the presence of the Savior for all eternity or life separated from the Savior suffering in Hell for eternity.
What Lewis is getting at in this quote is that each of us, as humans, will outlast nations, cultures, civilizations, and any other system on this earth. With that being said, the way we interact with other human beings is important. Especially if you claim to be a Christian. Christ established his Church to be a body of believers that are united in him and in each other. Reread 1 Corinthians 12 if you don’t trust me! Each believer has value to the body of Christ. You have each been called for a purpose. God didn’t randomly choose you before the foundation of the world to have no purpose for his church. Rather he chose you so that you would be holy and blameless before him and to be his workmanship. You were created in Christ Jesus for good works, so walk in them with his Church, that also were called as you were! (Eph. 1:4; 2:10).
What does it mean then to lay the burden of each other’s glory on our backs daily? If we are truly the body of Christ we will be working in unison with one another. The eye needs the feet, the nose needs the fingers, the legs need the mind. We depend on each other to glorify God, to keep us accountable, to help us in trouble. The body also needs you. Don’t believe me?
Galatians 6:1–10 (ESV)
6 Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. 5 For each will have to bear his own load.
6 Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches. 7 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. 9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. 10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
The words of C.S. Lewis certainly seem to reflect Paul’s words here in Galatians. Yes, keep watch over yourself so you do not fall into sin, but also bear the burdens of other believers. This crushes American Individualism into dust.
There are three things that are eternal. God (The Trinity, his Kingdom, etc ect…), God’s Word, and the souls of mankind. You are not ordinary. The people in your local church are not ordinary. You are called to serve things that are eternal. These things matter! Praise the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit! Grow in your knowledge and wisdom from God’s Word. Point others to Christ. Bear their burdens. You are needed by people in your church and they are needed by you.
There will probably be more posts flowing out of this quote from C.S. Lewis. There is too much to talk about from his marvelous words and the Word of God for one post!
We are members of one another. Live like it! Soli Deo Gloria!