Summer is approaching. And while I welcome the warmth, barbecues, and ball games, I also look forward to diving into my summer reading list. One of my favorites last year was Alister McGrath’s C.S. Lewis: A Life. It’s a fascinating look into the life and mind of one of the most influential Christian apologists of the 20th century. The Oxford Don is perhaps most famous for his enchanting fantasy series, the Chronicles of Narnia. Narnia, the imaginative world that Lewis developed is filled with wonderful allusions to biblical truths and themes. He’s also remembered for such works as Mere Christianity in which he gives a rational explanation of the truth of Christianity. It is difficult to overstate just how significant an impact Mere Christianity has made on evangelicalism.
But before he created his imaginative worlds of lions, witches, and wardrobes, and before he became the well-renowned Christian apologist (albeit reluctantly), Lewis was a person like anyone else, a person in pursuit of that tantalizing experience that always seemed just out of reach – joy. Although throughout his life he experienced emotional highs and happiness – usually when engaged intellectual conversation, reading exciting mythology, or writing fantastic tales – that sense of lasting satisfaction and purpose that had first captivated his imagination since youth remained beyond his grasp. That is, until he was awakened to the “true myth” that both satisfied his mind, imagination, and heart – the gospel.
After a series of events between 1929 and 1930, C. S. Lewis moved from atheist, to theist, until he finally “passed on from believing in God [an impersonal, supernatural being] to definitely believing in Christ.
Lewis’ story is an interesting and at times exciting one, and I encourage you to read more about him and peruse biographies in general. But this post isn’t just about Lewis. There are many other people, famous and ordinary, that have found the fulfillment of their pursuit of lasting joy – Jesus Christ. The good news of the gospel outshines all other sources that only offer short-lived or fallacious “joy.” Anything other than faith in Jesus’ redemptive work on the cross and his resurrection from the dead is inadequate. These idols are no match for the hardships of life and worse, depending on them for joy, meaning, or purpose actually contributes to lasting destruction.
But the gospel saves us from wasting our lives chasing after transitory pleasures and dependency in material objects, relationships, money, fame, and other things that will ultimately disappoint. These things may be good, but when they are made the ultimate goal of our life and the object of our deepest affections, they serve as a distraction from the glorious, eternal fulfillment of joy that can only be found in reconciled relationship with God.
Every human heart is captivated by something. And because of sin, that something is inevitably at odds with God. But, by God’s grace, when we are awakened to the wonder, awe, and beauty of God himself, we are transformed from pursuers of rubbish to pursuers of God.
Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 3:8-11
Herein lies true joy, in the arms of Jesus. As the Apostle Paul states in this passage, Jesus’ perfect life and substitutionary suffering and death on the cross satisfied the weighty requirements of God’s law (which we could not keep) and purchased our salvation from the sin (which we could not merit) that separated us from the relational God who loves us. This joy is not fleeting, and though we get a satisfying taste in this life, it will be prove exponentially sweeter in the life to come.