“I think everyone who has some vague belief in God, until he becomes a Christian, has the idea of an exam or of a bargain in his mind. The first result of real Christianity is to blow that idea into bits.”— C.S. Lewis
And who doesn’t believe the bargain is in their favor or the exam is easily passed? Doesn’t culture want us to think so?
Convinced of my good, it’s like walking into the bakery and saying, “I think I will reward myself with a chocolate eclair and while I’m here, I think a cinnamon roll would be good, too.” That’s what culture does; polishes its skin to make itself look inviting. The baker never wishes me to deny myself. But God does. And as I greet the slow consequence, I tell it, “Not today.” Bargain made.
Consequence delayed is still consequence.
And then on another day, as though I possess a great constitution, I turn down the baker’s offer and with some amount of pride and self-praise, say to myself, “Not today.” Exam passed.
How do we ever get to real Christianity, to blow our delusion into bits?
Allure deceived me before I ever fell. Beyond need, somewhere along my way, I re-framed my deception into the statement — I deserve. And believing my delusion, I inched closer to earning ... and how far from God that is. God kept urging me closer. I said, “Not today.”
God is not linear. He met me everywhere I turned. If I couldn’t delay God, trick him or tip the balance sheet in my favor, I had to deal with him. But didn’t he know this? Wasn’t he dealing with me?
God need not deceive me with allure. He never offered me cinnamon rolls or even their sweet, penetrating scent. When I realized I could not extract from him so sweet a morsel or coerce him to do so and he constrained me not, he offered me, austere and unadorned — himself.
A deluded life is a life misspent chasing what we do not possess and God did not intend. When the delusion ends, when we realize the baker is wrong, has always been wrong, when envy no longer postpones what God gifted to us, we are free to enter an honest relationship with him. And now, everything becomes clear.
“Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. For if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him. If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us. If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself” (2 Timothy 2:10-13).
“Those who have ears to hear, let them hear” (Matthew 11:15, NKJV).
And so hearing, my “not today” is blown to bits.
Deck Cheatham has been a golf professional for more than 40 years. He lives with his family in Dalton. Write to him at email@example.com.