The interviewer would later reflect that he was "surprised by the suddenness of Professor Lewis’ reply." Lewis had a tendency of erupting suddenly, either verbally or in writing, when strong impulses inside him needed out. Lewis even declared that his best writing came "suddenly and in a rush." Earlier in the interview Lewis reflected, "Writing is like a ‘lust,’ or like ‘scratching when you itch.’ Writing comes as a result of a very strong impulse, and when it does come, I for one must get it out.”
So when Lewis heard the interviewer opine that Chesterton had joined the church "To get rid of my sins," he released the strong impulse that arose within him. His next words to the interviewer are a brilliant verbal ejaculation on the primary objective of Christian people.
"It is not enough to want to get rid of one’s sins,” Lewis said. “We also need to believe in the One who saves us from our sins. Not only do we need to recognize that we are sinners; we need to believe in a Savior who takes away sin. Matthew Arnold once wrote, ‘Nor does the being hungry prove that we have bread.’ Because we know we are sinners, it does not follow that we are saved.”It is my opinion that many of us who preach the word, lead churches, and seek change in people have never understood the premise of C.S. Lewis. The institutional church, particularly in evangelical conservative circles like ours, is so focused on making sure people know that they are sinners that we seem to have lost our gospel focus. Convincing others of sin gives no deliverance like telling people their hungry gives them no bread.
"Be sure your sin will find you out" (Numbers 32:23). This verse tells us that sin itself will convince sinners of their failure. In other words, the Spirit of God has a way of "convincing the world of sin" by allowing sin to to convince the sinner of his sin.
Do you get that? Sin will find you out. Be sure about that truth. A world full of sinners needs gospel churches - good news churches - that provide deliverance. The world, either corporately or one sinner at a time, will always experience the pain, destructiveness and shattering results of sin. It is sin 'that finds you out" and convinces you of its inherent failure. Sinful people turn to the church to find a Savior. Hungry people turn to relief centers to find bread. Why is it that when many turn into the doors of an institutional "conservative" church that allegedly "believes the Bible," they will only hear expositions on the sinful nature of man and the sinfulness of culture?
Count me in the camp of C.S. Lewis.
I'm writing this post because of an inner compulsion within me. I have an itch that I must scratch. We need more proclaiming of the glory, beauty and power of Jesus Christ! When the sweet music of Jesus plays on the strings of our hearts, the inferior music that sin sings in our heart will be drowned out by the Divine symphony of God's goodness and grace. The Bread of life satisfies the hungry heart.
This Sunday I am preaching on the Gadarene demoniac. It's not my desire so much to point out the ugliness, grossness, and nakedness of the demoniac as much as it is to promote the glorious love, power and healing of the Savior. We're all seen in the Gadarene. Whether we are convinced of our sin is only a matter of time. "Sin will find us out" - all of us - in time.
I want to be the person who shines the light on the Person who delivers us from sin, not the person who keeps pounding people with their sin. In other words, I want to deliver the Bread of life to hungry people rather than to read an essay on the attributes of hunger to the hungry.