Drinking Everything In

Michael Metzger

You’d assume that in going further up, everything below would get smaller and smaller. Not so.

Everyday life is a complex affair. Too often, however, the faith community reduces life to a small handful of topics. The gospel, discipleship, giving, kingdom, relationships, mission, community.

These are necessary topics. They’re just too few. There are literally thousands of topics in the Bible, from gardening to gossip, taxes to tourism, coffee to craftsmanship. Some are explicit. Others are implicit. But they’re all there, addressing almost everything in everyday life.

Seminaries generally don’t give pastors eyes to see this. Mine didn’t. I was taught to give “exegetical” sermons. Throw in a “topical” series here and there. That’s a false dichotomy. Exegete any passage and we discover layers of topics. Good exegetical sermons are topical.

They also ought to touch on a wide range of topics. Commerce. Business. Capitalism. Finance. Clothing. Entertainment. Technology. Architecture. Alcohol. Childrearing. Exercise. Healthcare. Transportation. What constitutes good music. Good books. Good conscience.

This rarely happens. “Sermons are often too general, small groups avoid sensitive subjects, theological writings rarely address everyday concerns.”[1] It seems the deeper we’re drawn into a local faith community (which I believe is necessary), the smaller our world becomes.

C. S. Lewis felt it should work the other way round. When we go further up and further in—he meant simultaneously—we drink everything in more deeply.

We see this in The Last Battle, the last book in Lewis’ Narnia series. The old Narnia is being overwhelmed by foreign invaders. Those loyal to Tirian (the last king of Narnia) are cornered. The enemy drives Tirian and his troops into a small stable at the top of a hill. Things look bad.

This is the same stable seen in the first chapters of The Last Battle. Back then it housed the anti-Aslan. Tirian assumes it now houses another anti-Aslan, the terrifying god Tash. But once in the stable, he does not find Tash. Tirian instead gets a surprise. The stable is actually another world.

Tirian never knew this because he’d never traveled between worlds. Now he does. Tirian peeks back through the stable door and sees Narnia on its last evening. He turns around to see the inside of the stable with a blue sky canopy overhead. He sees a grassy country spreading out before him in every direction. Tirian turns to his followers, his friends. They’re happy for him.

So is Tirian. “It seems, then, that the stable seen from within and the stable seen from without are two different places.” “Yes,” says Lord Digory (who’s also traveled between worlds). “Its inside is bigger than its outside.” Queen Lucy concurs. “Yes, in our world too, a stable once had something inside it that was bigger than our whole world.”

Tirian now sees how Lucy “was drinking everything in even more deeply than the others.” She’s traveled between worlds. She’s gone further up and further in than the others.

C. S. Lewis further up and further in than most of us. He saw more. Everyday life got bigger. “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” Everything else encompasses the entirety of everyday life.

How many Christians today can say their faith explains everything? I don’t know. But my sense is few have gone further up and further in. Few believers drink everything in more deeply than those who haven’t embraced the faith. Few see the height, breadth, and depth of the gospel.

We can. But it requires going further up and further in. This requires a seasoned guide, even in this time of isolation. A seasoned guide is someone who has already gone further up and further in. You can’t take someone further than you’ve been. Use this time to find seasoned guides.

Be sure to check out the latest Clapham podcast: https://claphaminstitute.podbean.com/

 

[1] The Complete Book of Everyday Christianity, edited by Robert Banks & R. Paul Stevens (InterVarsity Press, 1997), viii.

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1 thought on “Drinking Everything In”

  1. Queen Lucy concurs. “Yes, in our world too, a stable once had something inside it that was bigger than our whole world.”

    I can relate. It’d be overstating it to say that every verse or set of verses is like that – but so many ARE like that. Scripture opens up if you knock and there’s no such thing as a small world on the other side of that door. When I have troubles in this world I slip back into knowing that hugeness was mine as a gift and still is and I’d never know it had I not stopped knocking because the weather was so bad where I was.

    I think when a hundred and more years ago when we built cathedrals we gave our cultures that sense. As pleasant as the outdoors are, stepping inside a cavern of ornamentation reminds you that such spaces and places are just a taste of what’s up and in the mind of Christ.

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