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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Master Mentor #4

This morning, I participated in my normal Thursday morning men’s small group. We’ve been talking about the Sermon on the Mount. Part of the discussion has been that Jesus expects us to live by the heart in terms of our relationship with God rather than just living by the actions… the difference between acting like we love our neighbors and actually loving our enemies and praying for them for example. Maybe I should have read my CS Lewis for today. In chapter 3, CS says that “men ought to be unselfish, ought to be fair. Not that men are unselfish, nor that they like being unselfish, but that they ought to be” (pg 30). As I read that, I thought about what we’ve been reading from the Sermon on the Mount.
Part of Jesus’ discussion with his hears was the idea that they had the Torah behind their relationship with God. So rather than forgiving and loving their enemies, they had been commanded not to murder. And they followed that commandment, lest they receive punishment. But that didn’t stop them from hating their enemies or calling them “fools.” But Jesus told them that they should have the kind of attitude in their hearts that would prompt them toward the spirit of the idea without the legalism of following the actual law. So rather than worrying about whether or not they were murdering others, they should worry about whether or not they were angry with their brothers (which could lead to murder) or they called their brothers a “fool” (which could also lead to murder in some situations).
In this chapter, CS is setting up that there is a form of expected behavior… something outside of ourselves that has set up some kind of standard that we are expected to adhere to. And he’s right. In this chapter he uses the illustration of having a seat on the train (page 29) and someone stealing it. There’s nothing wrong with someone sitting in that seat if they arrived there first. And there is no mistreatment assumed. But if while the sitter gets up for a second, someone jumps in behind them, moves their bag and takes their seat there is mistreatment assumed. While the result is the same in both situations, the second person is considered a “jerk.” And most people, except possibly the person who “stole” the seat in the second situation, would conclude that this person is a “jerk.” While we may come to a different name conclusion other than “jerk,” most of us would arrive at that conclusion.
And CS asks why. And he is exactly correct when he answers the question by saying “it begins to look as if we shall have to admit that there is more than one kind of reality; that, in this particular case, there is something above and beyond the ordinary facts of men’s behavior, and yet quite definitely real – a real law, which none of us made, but which we find pressing on us” (pg 30).
There is something above and beyond ourselves which sets up a standard that all of us would agree upon, unless for some personal convenience it would pay us to act otherwise, that helps direct our behavior.

Jim

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