A Counselor Reflects on Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
“Did you ever think, when you were a child, what fun it would be if your toys could come to life? Well suppose you could really have brought them to life. Imagine turning a tin solider into a real little man. It would involve turning the tin into flesh. And suppose the tin soldier did not like it. He is not interested in flesh: all he sees is that the tin is being spoilt. He thinks you are killing him. He will do everything he can do to prevent you. He will not be made into a man if he can help it (p. 179).” Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
Think of a time when you have sat or slept in an awkward position and due to cutting off the circulation, your foot has “fallen asleep.” As the blood flows back, there is a painful tingling sensation that we would stop if we could. That is a small taste of life invading death.
Now imagine cold hard lungs becoming soft again and grasping for air, or a stone heart passing through the sensation of an intense “Charlie horse” as it begins to beat again. These mercies that would be miraculous would be experienced initially as torture.
Now, following Lewis’ lead, let’s imagine these events less self-centeredly. Imagine you are the child Lewis describes who loves his toy and wants to bless it with life so that it could know the affection you have for it in ways a dead/inanimate object cannot.
While this confounds the metaphor slightly, imagine giving life required the cooperation of your beloved tin soldier. Each time you begin the process of imparting life, the soldier resists and resents you as a mean or harsh person. But you continue to love your toy and want to give it life so that it can know your love and have a more full existence.
This is one picture (not the only picture) of evangelism. We are beloved toys (metaphorically speaking) who have passed from death to life and found the change to be of inestimable value. We are encouraging our fellow toys to trust their Owner because He is good and the changes He wants to make in them are the best thing that could ever happen.
Yet any step that is taken towards life causes intense pain (dying to self – Luke 9:23; becoming a new creation – 2 Cor. 5:20). Our testimony sounds life foolishness (1 Cor. 1:18). Their experience of what God offers is the exact opposite of what we say.
Oddly, the pain of gaining life distracts them from the absence of life in which they are already existing. We realize that we cannot make blind/dead eyes see or deaf/dead ears hear the truth. The same God who must change their heart must touch their eyes and ears as well.
We are merely an example, in word and deed, that the result of God’s activity is truly life. We recognize their fear of the gospel is rational from where they are. It will cost them everything (Matt 13:44-46). From where they stand, the price cannot be “worth it” unless they accept that their everything is nothing compared God Himself.
We patiently, repeatedly, and passionately affirm that He is. We have compassion towards their fear of embracing life. But we do not agree with their fear. We simply affirm that a moment of true life is of greater value than an eternity of living death, and we ask them to accept God’s offer.