“The bad psychological material is not a sin but a disease. It does not need to be repented of, but to be cured. And by the way, that is very important. Human beings judge one another by their external actions. God judges them by their moral choices. When a neurotic who has a pathological horror of cats forces himself to pick up a cat for some good reason, it is quite possible that in God’s eyes he has shown more courage than a healthy man may have shown in winning the V.C. When a man who has been perverted from his youth and taught that cruelty is the right thing does some tiny little kindness, or refrains from some cruelty he might have committed, and thereby, perhaps, risks being sneered at by his companions, he may, in God’s eyes, be doing more than you and I would do if we gave up life itself for a friend.
It is as well to put this the other way round. Some of us who seem quite nice people may, in fact, have made so little use of a good heredity and good upbringing that we are really worse than those whom we regard as fiends. Can we be quite certain how we should have behaved if we had been saddled with the psychological outfit, and then with the bad upbringing, and then with the power, say, of Himmler? That is why Christians are told not to judge. We see only the results which a man’s choices make out of his raw material. But God does not judge him on the raw material at all, but on what he has done with it.
Most of the man’s psychological makeup is probably due to his body: when his body dies all that will fall off him, and the real central man, the thing that chose, that made the best or worst out of this material, will stand naked. All sorts of nice things which we thought our own, but which were really due to a good digestion, will fall off some of us: all sorts of nasty things which were due to complexes or bad health will fall off others. We shall then, for the first time, see every one as he really was. There will be surprises.”
-CS Lewis, Mere Christianity
The older I get the more I come to really appreciate these words. With all good gallows humor, there have been some “surprises” already.
However, today I just want to lean into those sweet words, “We shall then, for the first time, see every one as he really was.” There is truth in them there words. I have caught glimpses, I have sometimes had a peek into people’s souls and been astounded by what really resides there. Often we are far more beautiful than we even know. In a way we’ve been rendered blind here on earth, we can’t really see other people as they actually are, or even see ourselves. There are layers of deception and pre-conceived notions that make it hard for us to see through all the fog.
1 Corinthians 13:12 says, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”
That’s heaven to me, the chance to see ourselves and others as we really are, as we were created and intended to be. Often when all the masks fall away, all the lies and deceptions of this world, what lies beneath the surface of people is so breathtakingly beautiful, it just defies all description.
But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. – 1 Corinthians 2:9
Somebody asked me yet again how I know God is real, and part of the answer lies in the fact that when you peek into a human soul and see the beauty that lies there in such stark contrast to the darkness and suffering of the world all around us, you just know this is no random happenstance, no freak of nature. The beauty of our spirits is just irrational, supernatural, and not even of this world, but so real, more real than what we see all around us. We were designed in the image of our Creator and He is so beautiful.
Beautiful, such a flat word that hardly does it justice. But there just aren’t words, nothing to compare it to.
I hate to end on such a sour note, but I’ve often thought that “hell” is the torment we send our own selves into when we are finally confronted with the truth and nature of our own beauty, the beauty of our Creator, and the weight of our regret, the wastefulness of having done nothing with what we were given, presses down upon us. I am the Lord your God, but if you can no longer recognize yourself in Him, you will call your very own paternity into question.
It’s not about whether we are “good” or “bad,” or what rules we manage to break or follow, it’s about whether or not there is anything left of us willing to recognize ourselves in our Father.
Children are like that, they will run right to their fathers, they will leap into His arms, they will let you toss them in the air. Why? Because that’s their Dad and they recognize Him.
I know even as also I am known.