Thoughts on C. S. Lewis and Sabotage

Life in God’s kingdom isn’t always glamorous.

This is one of my favorite C. S. Lewis quotations, from Mere Christianity:

"Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us all to take part in a great campaign of sabotage."

Maybe it's my non-conformist streak (OK, it's more than a streak). Maybe it's my generational disillusionment with this planet and its inhabitants. Maybe it's that longing we all have to be part of something great, to make big mark on the world. Whatever the reason, I just love the idea that God is calling us to subversive activity in his name, to help turn the world upside down, just as Jesus did when he walked this earth. It's poetic, grandiose, and dangerous, and it captures my imagination.

Unfortunately, though, my imagination likes to spend most of its time in worlds unlike the real one where I actually live. And when I stop to think about what this quotation means in practical terms, I have to ask myself: What are these great acts of sabotage? Am I engaged in this campaign, resisting the mindless living prescribed by the world around me? How might the world be different if we all lived as cultural saboteurs?

Suddenly this whole idea seems a lot less glamorous.

Sometimes this kind of sabotage means winning. It may even mean winning as the underdog, overcoming incredible odds to achieve success. Sometimes it means healing, surviving against all expectation. It may mean opportunities to stand up and publicly credit God with doing powerful work in your life, using five minutes in the limelight to point to someone else. Sometimes it actually looks like good triumphing over evil at the eleventh hour.

But more often, this kind of sabotage looks like losing with grace. Sacrificing without reward, serving with no tangible result. It may mean achieving contentment in living a small life. Radically trusting God in the face of terror. Embracing disappointment again and again. Pouring out love with no strings attached. Loving your irritating spouse a day at a time. Refusing success for the sake of what really matters, what won't rust or fade, what exists in eternity. And for all of us, it means dying with hope.

Sabotage means clinging to "the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen…assurance about things we cannot see" (Hebrews 11:1). Like Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, and Rahab, it means believing in God's great plan—which goes way beyond us—and taking a giant leap toward a future that is certain but unseen.

May 29, 2012 at 10:11 AM

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