Monday, August 23, 2010

Life in the Body

“The very word membership is of Christian origin, but it has been taken over by the world and emptied of all meaning. It must be most emphatically stated that items included in a homogeneous class are almost the reverse of what St. Paul meant. By members he meant that what we should call organs, things, essentially different from, and complementary to, one another. When we describe a man as ‘a member of the Church’ we usually mean nothing Pauline: we mean only that he is a unit—that he is one more specimen of some kind of things as X and Y.

The society into which the Christian is called at baptism is not a collective but a Body. If anyone came to it with the misconception that membership of the Church was membership in a debased modern sense—a massing together of persons as if they were pennies—he would be corrected at the threshold by the discovery that the head of this Body is so unlike the inferior members that they share no predicate with him save by analogy. We are summoned from the outset to combine as creatures with out Creator, as mortals with immortal, as redeemed sinners with sinless Redeemer. His presence, the interaction between him and us, must always be the overwhelmingly dominant factor in the life we are to lead within the Body; and any conception of Christian fellowship which does not mean primarily fellowship with him is out of court. We are all constantly teaching and learning, forgiving and being forgiven, representing Christ to man, and man to Christ. The sacrifice of selfish privacy which is daily demanded of us is daily repaid a hundredfold in the true growth of personality which the life of the Body encourages. Those who are members of one another become as diverse as the hand and the ear. That is why the worldlings are so monotonously alike compared with the almost fantastic variety of the saints. Obedience is the road to freedom, humility the road to pleasure, unity the road to personality.”

C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

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