In Surprised by Joy, C.S. Lewis describes the mystery of his spiritual awakening. Of a certain sunny day, he writes, “When we set out I did not believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God, and when we reached the zoo I did. Yet I had not exactly spent the journey in thought. Nor in great emotion…It was more like when a man, after a long sleep, still lying motionless in bed, becomes aware that he is now awake.”
After years of reflecting on what it was that suddenly dawned on him, the former atheist, agnostic, and skeptic would say in an address to The Oxford Socratic Club entitled, “Is Theology Poetry”— “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen not only because I see it but because by it I see everything else.”
While lifting both quotes out of context, am hoping that together they might help some of us in this important moment. Not just this moment of pandemic, but also in our lingering awareness of death and resurrection.
In this moment— we could distract ourselves by trying to figure out what was happening on a certain day that an English professor of ancient literature ended up at the zoo; in what sense he came to believe Jesus is the Son of God; in what broad or narrow sense he was referring to Christianity; and to what extent he really thought he could now see everything else.
Or— we could take this moment (and the rest of our lives) to realize that everything we could ever think about pandemics, social distancing, or anything else—needs to be considered in light of why Jesus let those who considered him their enemy— mock, torture and crucify him— before rising from the dead with a promise to return.
Seems to me that everything before and after, even everything Jesus or his apostles said before and after, needs to be considered in light the Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday events.
If we don’t, how can we avoid the suspicion that God is an absent father, a moral bully, a consuming monster, or a bad boss? Unless we look at everything that has ever happened, and everyone who has ever lived— in light of the cross and resurrection of Jesus— how can we live in the awareness that God is good, and that— even in The Day of Accountability— nothing will ultimately separate us from the all-conquering Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world?