Serving Christ

This is a translation of a scriptural meditation from the Russian book, “Day by Day”. Lewis connection follows:

"Scripture: ‘I was hungry, and you gave me nothing to eat…I was sick and in prison, and you did not visit me’ (Matt: 25, 42-43)


"Here individuals are condemned not for actions, but for omissions. There is no indication here of any wrongdoing with regard to the small brothers of Christ, the hungry, sick, imprisoned and lonely, in whose place He puts Himself. What are indicated here are omissions. These individuals saw “the little ones” in need, hungry, thirsty, imprisoned and naked, and did not help them. They “passed by” – passed by human sorrow and poverty, which they could have alleviated. They did not heed the moans of humans, and if they did hear them, these moans left them unconcerned. And it is these omissions, this careless attitude towards others that are considered real and severe sins in the eyes of the God.

“Many people live carefree lives and miss chances to help others and lighten their suffering; they don’t want to understand that in doing so they sin against Christ Himself – leaving Him, in the image of His poor brothers, without help, without compassion and without comfort. We do not think, do not dwell on this. But we must think and dwell on it. We must ask ourselves – are we Christians in word only, or in deeds as well. And if we consciously call ourselves disciples of Christ, then how can we live without His spirit, without obeying Him, how can we leave Him hungry and thirsty and refuse to give Him the only thing He asks of us – love and the devotion of our heart.”

This brought to mind a letter of Lewis’s from May 6, 1962:

"Dear Mr Robertson– On this point as on others the N.T. is highly paradoxical. St. Paul at the outset of an epistle sometimes talks as if the converts whom he is addressing were already wholly new creatures, already in the world of light, their old nature completely crucified. Yet by the end of the same epistle he will be warning the same people to avoid the very grossest vices.
Of himself he speaks sometimes as if his reward was perfectly sure: elsewhere he fears lest, having preached to others, he shd. be himself a castaway. Our Lord Himself sometimes speaks as if all depended on faith, yet in the parable of the sheep and the goats all seems to depend on works: even works done or undone by those who had no idea what they were doing or undoing. The best I can do about these mysteries is to think that the N.T. gives us a sort of double vision. A. Into our salvation as eternal fact, as it (and all else) is in the timeless vision of God. B. Into the same thing as a process worked out in time. Both must be true in some sense but it is beyond our capacity to envisage both together. Can one get a faint idea of it by thinking of A. A musical score as it is written down with all the notes there at once. B. The same thing played as a process in time? For practical purposes, however, it seems to me we must usually live by the second vision ‘working out our own salvation in fear and trembling’ (but it adds ‘for’–not ‘though’–but ‘for’–‘it is God who worketh in us’). And in this temporal process surely God saves different souls in different ways? To preach instantaneous conversion and eternal security as if they must be the experiences of all who are saved, seems to me v. dangerous: the very way to drive some into presumption and others into despair. How v. different were the callings of the disciples. I don’t agree that if anyone were completely a new creature, you and I wd. necessarily recognise him as such. It takes holiness to detect holiness.


“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Love will last forever.” (1 Corinthians 13: 4-8)