Mere Christianity: Nice People or New Men (Part 2)

“There is a paradox. As long as Dick does not turn to God, he thinks his niceness is his own, and just as long as he thinks that, it is not his own. It is when Dick realises that his niceness is not his own but a gift from God, and when he offers it back to God – it is just then that it begins to be really his own. For now Dick is beginning to take a share in his own creation.” (pgs. 212, 213)

“You cannot expect God to look at Dick’s placid temper and friendly disposition exactly as we do, they will disappear if Dick’s digestion alters. The niceness is God’s gift to Dick, not Dick’s gift to God. He intends, in His own good time, to set the bad part of Miss Bates right. But that is not, for God, the critical part. It presents no difficulties. It is not what He is anxious about. What He is watching and waiting and working for is something He cannot will not produce by mere act of power. Their free will is something they can freely give or refuse to give Him. He can help them, but never force them.” (pgs. 211, 212)

“The only things we can keep are the things we freely give to God. What we try to keep for ourselves is just what we are sure to lose”- C.S. Lewis

“We must, therefore, not be surprised if we find among the Christians some people who are still nasty. There is even a reason why nasty people might be expected to turn to Christ in greater numbers than nice ones. Often people who have these natural kinds of goodness cannot be brought to recognise their need for Christ at all until, one day, the natural goodness lets them down and their self-satisfaction is shattered. In other words, it is hard for those who are ‘rich’ in this sense to enter the Kingdom.” (pgs. 213, 214)

“It is very different for nasty people. If they make any attempt at goodness at all, they learn, in double quick time, that they need help. If you mistake for your own merits what are really God’s gifts to you through nature, and if you are contented with simply being nice, you are still a rebel. The devil was an archangel once with natural gifts far above yours.” (pgs. 214-215)

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”- 2 Corinthians 12:9, 10

“But if you are a poor creature – poisoned by a wretched upbringing in some house full of vulgar jealousies and senseless quarrels; nagged day in and day out by an inferiority complex that makes you snap at your best friends – do not despair. He knows all about it. You are one of the poor whom He blessed. He knows what a  wretched machine you are trying to drive. Keep on. Do what you can. One day (perhaps in another world, but perhaps far sooner than that) He will fling it on the scrap-heap and give you a new one. And then you may astonish us all – not least yourself: for you have learned your driving in a hard school.- Some of the last will be the first and some of the first will be the last.” (pg. 215)

“…for it is we who get to choose to be better than our pain… let us trust God with the rest”- Unknown

“Niceness – wholesome, integrated personality – is an excellent thing. We must try by every medical, educational, economic, and political means in our power to produce a world where as many people as possible grow up nice; just as we must try to produce a world where all have plenty to eat. But we must not suppose that even if we succeeded in making everyone nice we should have saved their souls. A world of nice people, content in their own niceness, looking no further, turned away from God, would be just as desperately in need of salvation as a miserable world – and might even be more difficult to save.”          (pgs. 215, 216)

“For mere improvement is not redemption, though redemption always improves people even here and now and will, in the end, improve them to a degree we cannot yet imagine. God became a man to turn creatures into sons, not simply to produce better men of the old kind but to produce a new kind of man.” (pg. 216)

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