MONDAY MINUTES with Pastor Chris McCool (September 20, 2021)

C.S. Lewis is one of my favorite writers. I’ve read all seven books of the Chronicles of Narnia at least a dozen times! He was, in my opinion, one of the greatest Christian apologists of modern times, and although his and my soteriology (salvation theology) are not the same, I highly recommend most all of his writings to any Christian.

The past couple of years have really been trying times, have they not? From politics to the pandemic, it seems that fear and anxiety dominate the emotions of most children of God (including Yours Truly!). And lately, the surge in sicknesses and deaths due to COVID and its many variants has only increased the level of anxiety among even the staunchest Christians.

How should we face the troublesome times in which we are living? It is tempting, is it not, to cower in fear! But as Paul wrote to the young preacher Timothy, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power,and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Tim. 1:7).

When troubles like this afflict us, we are tempted to believe that times have never been this bad. But Christians throughout the ages have faced just as bad, and worse! We are told in Scripture, “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.” (Eccl. 1:9). Paul reemphasizes this point in his letter to the church at Corinth: “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (1 Cor. 10:13)

Christians in C.S. Lewis’s day faced similar struggles. You may remember that he fought in WWI, and lived through WWII and the advent of the age of the atomic bomb. He was living when Hiroshima and Nagasaki were bombed, ushering in a whole new era of warfare that gave rise to fear and anxiety.

In the midst of this new era, he penned some lines that I believe are very relevant to us today. To be sure, he did NOT counsel that the troublesome issues of his day be ignored, nor do I believe he would counsel that we do so today! Rather, he (and I) implore all readers to face the facts of the current pandemic, and do whatever you can to protect yourself (and no, I am NOT promoting or discouraging the vaccine: on the contrary, I urge everyone to do your research and make your decision about what YOU think is best!).

I want to share this C.S. Lewis quote here today. I believe it is relevant to our situation, and I – like this great Christian apologist – counsel you to live your life in holy boldness, rather than abject fear due to the circumstances of life. Here is the quote – simply substitute “COVID” each time you read “atomic age”, and I believe you will see the very appropriate applicability today:

In one way we think a great deal too much of the atomic bomb. “How are we to live in an atomic age?” I am tempted to reply: “Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any night; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, an age of paralysis, an age of air raids, an age of railway accidents, an age of motor accidents.”

In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation. Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the atomic bomb was invented: and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways. We had, indeed, one very great advantage over our ancestors—anesthetics; but we have that still. It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty.

This is the first point to be made: and the first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things—praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts—not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.” C.S. Lewis, 1948.

May the Lord bless you is my prayer.

Elder Chris McCool, Pastor