Living Among Immortals – C.S. Lewis

Weight of Glory Living Among Immortalsby Chris Banescu –

In his The Weight of Glory sermon C.S. Lewis reminds us that God created men and women as immortal beings. While our sin and rebellion has temporarily alienated us from God, resulting in the death of our physical bodies, our souls do not die. Past death, our souls live on waiting for the Second Coming of Christ and the restoration of our full humanity; when our renewed and transformed bodies will be once again in full union and symbiosis with our souls.

Lewis masterfully pulls aside the veil of worldly cares and materialist presumptions. He reveals the godly and eternal dimension of our existence with the wisdom and insight that only a messenger of the Lord could posses. “It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you may talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and corruption such as you now meet if at all only in a nightmare.”

This timeless truth is important because it draws attention to how precious and special human life truly is. Nothing in this world compares with the value of human life. “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendours,” proclaims Lewis.

Lewis also helps us see Christ’s commandment to “love thy neighbor as yourself” from a clear and sobering perspective. “And our charity must be real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner—no mere tolerance or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment. Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses.”

There Are No Ordinary People; You Have Never Talked to a Mere Mortal
“It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you may talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and corruption such as you now meet if at all only in a nightmare.

All day long we are in some degree helping each other to one or the other of these destinations. It is in light of these overwhelming possibilities it is with awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics.

There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendours.

This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of the kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously – no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption.

And our charity must be real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinners – no mere tolerance, or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment. Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses. If he is your Christian neighbour, he is holy in almost the same way, for in him also Christ vere latitat [truly hides], the glorifier and the glorified, Glory Himself, is truly hidden.”

C.S. Lewis, from “The Weight of Glory” sermon.

The Weight of Glory book available from Amazon.com.

— NOTE —
When Orthodox Christians speak of the soul being immortal, we can clarify that is means “undying” – it is not extinguished when the physical body dies. Immortal means that souls “do not die.” God sustains them as He sustains all of creation. Immortality in body and spirit is the gift fully conferred by God in the age to come, at the general resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:53).