Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Weight of Glory

In "The Weight of Glory," C.S. Lewis is basically explaining the incredible idea of heaven and the glory present there. It also begins to apply the idea of glory to our own lives as well.

In the first part of the essay, Lewis writes a terrific quote:

...it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half- hearted creatures, fooling about 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 the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.

How do we combat these half-hearted desires? It seems to me that we must start by trying to understand what we are desiring. We must understand that there is that promised "holiday at the sea" in order to desire it. 

This flows nicely into the next topic: heaven. What is it? Lewis seems to define heaven as a place where we are present within everything we have desired in an unselfish manner. How does this work? We long for a perfect world. We long to be absorbed into nature. We long to become part of music. I like to think that this "oneness" can happen for brief moments in time. We can be a part of a beautiful scene of creation. We can know a song so deeply that it seems to speak to our very being. But it never lasts. 

Where does glory fit into this idea of heaven? After all, is that not the title? Up to this point in the essay, Lewis was mainly sharing his own thoughts on heaven. However, as he states, "the scriptural imagery [of heaven] has authority," and in the scriptural images of heaven, there is an abundance of glory.

This glory is described in two ways by Lewis. The first refers to a cultural view of glory: fame. Why is this biblical at all? Does it not seem that fame only comes from pride or arrogance or an overabundance of money? In our current culture, this is the case. However, we must redefine our idea of fame. Instead of the approval of others, this fame refers to "approval or... 'appreciation' by God." This idea makes sense. Searching for God's approval and appreciation seems overwhelming, but it seems to be one way in which the glory of heaven is manifested. This concept also fits with our sense of longing to be a part of the creation. Lewis writes:

The sense that in this universe we are treated as strangers, the longing to be acknowledged, to meet with some response, to bridge some chasm that yawns between us and reality, is part of our inconsolable secret. And surely, from this point of view, the promise of glory, in the sense described, becomes highly relevant to our deep desire.

The second way it is described is as "brightness, splendor, luminosity." This did not make sense to me at first. I understand the desire to be "within", for lack of a better word, nature or beauty. But is this really what is meant by "brightness, splendor, luminosity?" I honestly do not know. I am not even certain that I believe that this idea of glory is accurate. But I can say that I believe that the picture of the Everlasting Light in the Bible shows that there must be some of this type of "luminosity."

But how on earth does this actually apply to me? Why do I really need to know about the glory of heaven? Lewis explains this as well. Everyone must be taken seriously. Why? Because every person is immortal, and we must treat them as such. We must also take this to be a call to evangelism. How can we let anyone remain in a state of eternal longing? How can we allow them to never experience the glory of heaven? We must try our best not to let this happen.

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