Scratching the Surface

I want to start this post off with a game. You ready? I promise it will be easy. Which of these quotes is not like the others? Fake CS Lewis Quote 3 CS Lewis Fake quote 2 al-quote There’s no trick here. It’s the last one. But not for the obvious reason. The last quote humorously gives Lincoln credit for something he could never have said. But while the first two are not attributed to Lewis in jest, what all three quotes have in common is that none are attributed to their actual authors. C.S. Lewis is the Abraham Lincoln of “spiritual,” Christian-ish quotes on the internet. People love to slap his name on random quotes that sound vaguely “inspirational” or “deep.” The first was actually coined by a motivational speaker and has nothing to do with Christianity whatsoever. It is a fact that you are never too old to dream a new dream, but there is nothing inherently Christ-like about such a statement. The second quote is an attempt to state some kind of spiritual thought, but upon any close examination falls woefully short of profound truth. What practical difference does it make if we are a body and have a soul, or are a soul and have a body? Unless you believe that being one and having the other gives you cause to neglect one, which one you “have” and which one you “are” is neither here nor there. This statement is equivalent to being brain and having an ear, or being an ear and having a brain. Both make up the whole that allows you to receive and interpret sounds. Without either one, there is no hearing. And, in the same way, without both a body and a soul, there is no you. Just as we are commanded to love the “Lord with all our soul,” we are also told to “taste and see that the Lord is good,” two things that require a physical body. You need to have and be both body and soul to experience God as He has revealed Himself. This turn of phrase that is repeatedly shared and passed off as a deep spiritual truth, in fact, says almost nothing. cs-lewis-quote-we-are-far-too-easily-pleased This is a real C.S. Lewis quote. It is from The Weight of Glory. And in much the same way that we settle for temporary pleasure when true joy is offered us, I think we are too quickly satisfied with things that are pithy rather than profound. We’re not just playing in the mud when there is an ocean of joy awaiting. We’re playing in mud labelled “deep” and ignoring the depths of wisdom and knowledge that have been offered to us. And I am just as guilty of this as anyone else. With “encouragement” and “inspiration” a Google search or a Bible app away, I rarely carve out time to truly meditate on or wrestle with deep truths. Too often, I want my theology given to me in little bites that can be delivered in 140 characters or less. It’s so much easier to say “Let go and let God” or “Modest is hottest” than to actually work on surrendering my desires to the Lord’s direction or working out a true understanding of why modesty is a valuable virtue. We’ve boiled big thoughts down into little catch phrases, and we’re missing out on true understanding. We are scratching the surface of spiritual truth when we settle for succinct. And thinking deeply about any subject is an uphill battle. We are surrounded by a culture that has traded profundity in for pithy snippets on Pinterest and vague declarations that are misattributed to famous scholars, writers, and public figures. We live in culture that masquerades trite things in the clothes of wisdom. And as easy as it is to play safely in the puddle that we understand, it can be wearying as well. In the midst of the inspirational quotes and the trite turns of phrase, things begin to ring hollow. “These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.” (Col. 2:21) There is no growth or adventure there. We stay where things feel familiar, but we are drowning in the shallow end because it’s not deep enough here to swim. The good news is that when the world offers us hollow wisdom, over the cacophony of our culture and the laziness in my own heart, wisdom is calling. “She raises her voice in the public square; on top of the wall she cries out, at the city gate she makes her speech.” (Prov. 1:21-22) Wisdom wants to be found. There are deep thoughts to be wrestled with and understood. And I often need to be reminded that gaining wisdom is not merely a tedious chore, but pursuit of treasure. “How much better to get wisdom than gold! To get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.” (Prov. 16:16) We are called into depths of wisdom and knowledge that are unsearchable. If you are weary of being worldly wise, be freed by the fact that we are able to think deeply. I need to be reminded that I serve a God whose wisdom and knowledge is unsearchable, and the thing holding me back from those boundless riches is my unwillingness to be challenged. “Be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Col 2:2-3)

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