Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.” (John 8:34)
We had a wonderful time with the men on Wednesday night discussing C.S. Lewis’ marvelous little book, “The Great Divorce.” The book details the fictitious account of day-trippers from hell (Grey Town) visiting heaven. Although they can remain as long as they want, only one of their number chooses to stay.
This itself is instructive for evangelism. We often mistakenly believe that if unbelievers could only see beyond death they would all instantly be converted and repent. This is simply not true. By nature, we are all too much addicted to “self.” None of us are willing to give Christ His place in the center of everything, our life included. Life has to be all about me — my plans, my desires, my hopes, my fears, my feelings, my rights. Like a crack head with his rock of cocaine, we know this love affair with self is lethal to everyone in our life — mostly ourselves. But we are not willing to let self go. We are willingly enslaved to the “me-myself-and-I principle.” We see this dynamic play out in many of the great works of fiction. Think of Gollum and his “Precious” in the Lord of the Ring series. This Shadowy figure carries his torment everywhere he goes. Gollum loves the ring to much to let it go.
It’s precisely the same for Lewis’ imaginary figures from Grey Town. Each in their own way are self-addicted. Whether it be the high-brow intellectual, religious-self of the Anglican Apostate, or the vain-self of the lady who couldn’t bear being seen by the saints; they could see straight through her. Like all the other inhabitants of Grey Town, selfishness robbed her of solidity. As a result she was a transparent, oily stain upon the air of heaven.
One of my favorite scenes is the man with the red lizard on his back. The Lizard is a metaphor for some well-loved besetting sin. It slithers up onto his neck and whispers sweet lies into his ear. Even though it tortures him, the ghost cannot bear the thought of parting with it. The angel offers to kill it, but the ghost must want it gone. Herein lies the problem for us all. We hate our pet sins, but we love them more. So our repentance is often tragically short-lived, we loathe the consequences, the guilt, the shame, the disruption sin causes our relationships, but when the dust settles we secretly intend to return to their sweet embrace. And just like the angel in Lewis’ story, Jesus and the Spirit stand ready to kill our lethal pets if we want. “How often I longed to gather you under my wings, but you were not willing.” “You will not come to me that you might have life.” As we conclude our devotion this morning, we do well to ponder: where are the Lizards in our lives? Jesus is waiting, He says to us, “What do you want me to do for you?” The choice is yours. Choose with eternity in mind!