I am continuing my reread of the classic collection of essays by C.S. Lewis, THE WEIGHT OF GLORY AND OTHER ADDRESSES. The two paragraphs below are actually just a portion from one long paragraph that is almost two pages long! They are among two of the most quoted passages Lewis ever wrote but are even more powerful when read in context and against the backdrop of World War II and the carnage it brought to Europe. Lewis’s plea to his audience that the weight of the potential future glory of our neighbors should be a powerful incentive to live passionately for and like Christ. His words rang out to one of the largest congregations ever assembled at University Church of St. Mary the Virgin on June 8, 1941. Today they still ring true.
“It may be possible for each to think too much of his own potential glory hereafter; it is hardly possible for him to think too often or too deeply about that of his neighbour. The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbour’s glory should be laid on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of proud will be broken. 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 can 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 a 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 the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and 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, civilisations–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.
Can I make a suggestion?
Read those words again. Out loud this time. And after you have read them, after you have attempted to digest them a bit, look up and out your window. See if you can see a neighbor. If you can’t, take a walk, find a neighbor to see. You don’t have to stop them. You might only wave and nod, but when you do, remember these words . . .
“You are looking at an immortal being.”
They will spend eternity somewhere. Either glorified because they are in Christ or in horror because they are not. Take them seriously. Love them for Christ’s sake and theirs. Pray for them. And look for opportunities to point them to the Savior of the world.