I recently finished a book on the impact WWI had on the lives and the writings of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien (A Hobbit a Wardrobe and a Great War by Joseph Loconte). For many, including much of the intelligentsia, the war helped destroy what was left of their Christian faith. I say 'what was left' because Christianity had already been weakened in part by Herbert Spencer's 'social Darwinism' and the notion that man, through technological and intellectual 'evolution' had the power and the will to realize something close to heaven on earth.
Well, the war certainly destroyed any notion that man was continually evolving into something better, but the resulting cynicism drove many further away from God rather than closer. But not so with Tolkien, who was a believer before heading off to war, and Lewis who was not. Much can be said, but if you are a fan of either of these Christian literary giants of the 20th century, consider reading the book.
I want to highlight how the book summarized the two authors. “The most influential Christian authors of the twentieth century believed that every human soul was caught up in a very great story: a fearsome war against a Shadow of Evil that has invaded the world to enslave the sons and daughters of Adam. Yet those who resist the Shadow are assured that they will not be left alone; they will be given the gift of friendship amid their struggle and grief. Even more, they will find the grace and the strength to persevere, to play their part in the story, however long it endures and wherever it may lead them.”
Most of us do not consider ourselves to be caught up in a 'very great story', much less a 'fearsome war'. Despite oppression of Christians in much of the world and frequent attacks on Christians and Christianity in our own country, most of us still live pretty comfortable lives and in no way consider ourselves on a battlefield.
But is there not a Shadow of Evil in the world today? Just look at modern American society: the destruction of marriage and the family, the mocking of faith, the idolization of pretty much any lifestyle, no matter how perverted. And although we tend to think of ourselves as immune to all this, we are not. We have already become at least partially enslaved. Consider the entertainment we watch, how we spend our free time, what we do with our money, when we are willing – or more than likely, not willing – to speak the truth, either to others or the world at large.
Reading those words was a bit of a shock to me. I am in a war, but I haven't been fighting. I've been avoiding the front lines and have been doing little to support those few that are on the front. I have a part to play in a story that is much, much bigger than I am. My part is in no way unimportant, but I do not like to think of myself in an epic story where I feel ill-equipped to play the role I am called to play. And using the war metaphor, it is an ongoing war that will never be won until Christ returns, but could very well be lost. I do not like to think of myself going to war. I – and perhaps most of us – are like the Hobbits in the Shire. We are comfortable with no desire to be dragged into war.
But we are called. And God will aid us. Let us answer the call.
And how do we answer that call? Add your two cents worth in the comments below.