Apr 6 2011

Love and Admiration

Over the years I have benefited tremendously from the writings of C.S. Lewis.  Back in college and graduate school I read a lot of his books.  It had been a while since I read anything by him so earlier this year I picked up a book of daily readings from his writings.  A few nights ago I came across the following passage:

“To love and admire anything outside yourself is to take one step away from utter spiritual ruin; though we shall not be well so long as we love and admire anything more than we love and admire God.”

We are reminded by Lewis that it is not a wise thing to be too self-absorbed.  So many of our problems in society today are the result of people looking out for and thinking of no one but themselves.  There is certainly a lot in the media these days that encourages such narcissist tendencies.  Great harm, however, comes to both those who give in to these tendencies and those who must be near them. The narcissist path, as Lewis notes, leads to utter spiritual ruin.

 As persons created in the image of God we are made to love and admire other individuals as well as the earth and all of God’s creatures.  When we do so our souls are made stronger and more beautiful.  When we fail to do so they are made weaker and grow uglier. 

Later today I will begin a journey with my wife to two of the Hawaiian Islands.  We celebrate our 30th anniversary in a couple of months and we decided this would be a great way to mark this milestone.  I already love and admire Bonita and have no doubt that I will also find much to love and admire in Hawaii.  Being with her and in this special place will greatly enrich my life.  I am at the same time thankful for all the other people and places I have come to love and admire over the years.  These, too, have led me many steps “from utter spiritual ruin.”

As important as it is “to love and admire anything outside yourself” it is even more important that we are careful not to “love and admire anything more than we love and admire God.”  Jesus taught us that the greatest commandment of all is to “love the Lord your God with all of your heart, with all of your soul, with all of your mind and with all of your strength.”  As the God who created us and all that we have He deserves every bit of  love that we can give Him.  As the God who has made salvation possible for us at such a tremendous price to Himself, He deserves even more love than we can give Him. 

It is very easy for us to fall into the trap of loving the things and persons God has made more than we love God Himself.  As C.S. Lewis reminds us, when we do this we are not well.  We are only spiritually healthy when we give everyone their proper place.  We should love God with everything that we’ve got and then strive to “love our neighbor (human and non-human) as ourselves.”  This is what Jesus taught long ago and it remains to this day the one and only path to real spiritual health and beauty.

–Chuck

(I took the top image in the Tremont area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  I captured the bottom image at Panama Beach, Florida.)