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The Problem With Being Good! - C.S. Lewis

Video from Sea Harp

"The Christian life is simply a process of having your natural self changed into a Christ self. And that this process goes on very far inside. One’s most private wishes, one’s point of view are the things that have to be changed. That's why unbelievers’ complaint with Christianity is that it is a selfish religion. “Isn't it very selfish—even morbid—” they say, “to be always bothering about the inside of your own soul, instead of thinking of humanity?” Now what would an NCO say to a soldier who had a dirty rifle, and when told to clean it replied, “But sergeant, isn't it selfish—even morbid—to be always bothering about the inside of your own rifle instead of thinking of the United Nations?” Well we needn't bother about what the NCO would actually say. You see the point: the man is not going to be much used to the United Nations if his rifle isn't fit to shoot. Quite in the same way people who are still acting from their own natural soul won't do much real permanent good to other people. Let me explain that. History isn't just a story of bad people doing bad things. It's quite as much a story of people trying to do good things, but somehow something goes wrong. Take the common expression “cold as charity.” How do we come to say that? From experience. We've learnt how unsympathetic, patronizing, and conceited charitable people often are. And yet, hundreds and thousands of them started out really anxious to do good, and when they’d done it, somehow it just wasn't as good as it ought to have been. The old story, “what you are comes out in what you do.” A crabapple tree can't produce eating apples. As long as the old self is there, its taint will be over all we do. We try to be religious and become pharisees. We try to be kind and become patronizing. Social service ends in red tape and officialdom. Unselfishness becomes a form of showing off. I don't mean, of course, that we should stop trying to be good; we've got to do the best we can. If the soldier is fool enough to go into battle with a dirty rifle, he mustn't run away. But I do mean that the real cure lies far deeper. Out of ourselves and into Christ we must go. The change won't, for most of us, happen suddenly. And I must admit that for most Christians it'll only be beginning at the very end of our present lives. But there are some in whom it goes further, even before death—far enough for you to see it. Their very faces and voices are different. When you meet them, you know you're up against something which, so to speak, begins where you leave off—something stronger, quieter, happier, more alive than ordinary humanity." from video introduction


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