Mere Christianity: The Great Sin

I am currently re-reading one of my favorite books of all time,”Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis (Clive Staples Lewis 1898- 1963). While most people might have read it already, I take it some haven’t, ergo my willing to share some of it’s valuable information.

But first a small bio: Published in 1952, this book was based on a series of broadcasts by radio during WWII meant for soldiers at war. Lewis’ talks were basically set out to explain the belief that was (and still is) common to all Christians. He provides an opportunity for believers & non believers to hear a rational & enticing case for the Christian faith, viewed from a moral & intellectual perspective. The book is a bit dated but it’s information holds fresh & true today. His thought-provoking views on the Christian faith turned into this brilliant yet simple masterpiece. An excerpt of this book:

“(this book) asks us to recognize that the great religious struggle is not fought on a spectacular battleground, but within the ordinary human heart, when every morning we awake and feel the pressures of the day crowding in on us, and we must decide what sort of immortals we wish to be”- Kathleen Norris (forward)

I wish to share what I consider the most important topics of this book, by addressing them in random sections. I shall write some excerpts textually (they are pretty much self-explanatory so there is no need to rephrase them) with a bit of my personal take.

The Great Sin

“There is one vice of which no man in the world is free; which everyone in the world loathes when he sees it in someone else; and of which hardly any people ever imagine that they are guilty themselves. I have very seldom met anyone, who showed the slightest mercy to it in others. There is no fault which makes a man more unpopular, and no fault we are more unconscious of in ourselves. And the more we have it ourselves, the more we dislike it in others. The vice I am talking of is pride.” (pg. 121)

– Pride as in self-conceit not pride in somebody else’s achievements. –

“If you want to find out how proud you are the easiest way is to ask yourself, ‘How much do I dislike it when other people snub me, or refuse to take any notice of me, or shove their oar in, or patronise me, or show off?’ – The worse you feel, the more pride you are holding in.- The point is that each person’s pride is in competition with everybody else’s pride. It is because I wanted to be the big noise at the party that I’m so annoyed at someone else being the big noise.” (pg. 122)

“Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. We say that people are proud of being rich, or clever, or good-looking, but they are not. They are proud of being richer, or cleverer, or better-looking than others. If every one else became equally rich, or clever, or good-looking there would be nothing to be proud about. It is the comparison that makes you proud – the pleasure of being above the rest.- Once the element of comparison is gone, pride has gone.” (pg. 122)

“…God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”- 1Peter 5:5

“In God you come up against something which is in every respect immeasurably superior to yourself. Unless you know God as that, you do not know God at all. As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on things and people. And, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you.” (pg. 124)

– Proud people only feel comfortable among those to which they feel superior.-

“The vain person wants praise, applause, admiration, too much and is always angling for it. (Vanity) is a fault, but a child-like one. It shows that you are not completely contented with your own admiration. The real black, diabolical pride, comes when you look down on others so much that you do not care what they think of you. Of course, it is very right, and often our duty, not to care what people think of us, if we do so for the right reason – because we care so incomparably more what God thinks.- But the proud man has a different reason for not caring. He says: ‘Why should I care for the applause of that rabble as if their opinion were worth anything?’ (pg. 126)

“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less”- C.S Lewis

“If you get into any kind of touch with God you will, in fact, be humble – delightedly humble, feeling the infinite relief of having for once got rid of all silly nonsense about your own pride which has made you restless and unhappy all your life.- He is trying to make you humble in order to make this moment possible. I wish I had got a bit further with humility myself, if I had, I could probably tell you more about the relief and comfort of getting rid of the false-self with all its ‘Look at me’ and all its posing and posturing.” (pg.128)

“If anyone would like to acquire humility, I can, I think tell him the first step: To realise that one is proud. If you think you are not conceited, it means you are very conceited indeed.” (pg. 128)

“…we shall not be well so long as we love and admire anything more than we love and admire God”- CS Lewis

By all means feel free to disagree. Lewis’ talks are not written in stone. They are, in fact, his points of view regarding God, Christianity, people, relationships amongst ourselves, God & others. I happen to agree with most of his ideas, hence my sharing it.

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