Becoming More Like C. S. Lewis in 2014

I have a problem: I want to be famous. As a college student studying film and video, my “famedom” took the form of wanting to win an Oscar for my amazing abilities, purportedly for the glory of God. Hindsight is 20/20, and I can more readily see how my aspiration was really for the glory of Cap.

To date, I haven’t produced an Oscar-winning film. And even though that ship has been unmoored (it’s getting ready to set sail), I still find in myself a desire to be publicly lauded and appreciated. To a certain degree, I think we all want that. (Yep, I’m dragging you all down with me on this one. I don’t want to hang out in this dirty pit alone, so welcome to the club.)

Which brings us to the example of C. S. Lewis. This past November marked the 50th anniversary of Lewis’ death. A recent national conference, The Romantic Rationalist: God, Life & Imagination in the Life of C. S. Lewis, sought to explore the key to Lewis’ influence. To begin with, though, conference host John Piper blogged about an important distinction. That blog post pierced my fame-enamored heart:

I want to know the keys to [Lewis’] influence because there is a difference between wanting fame and wanting influence. Christians should want to be influential. We should not want to be famous. Wanting fame means wanting to be known and praised by lots of people. Wanting to be influential means wanting lots of people to know and praise God because of how you spoke of him and lived before him.

When left unchecked, my heart gravitates toward a pursuit of fame instead of influence. Sometimes the two overlap; often they don’t. A proper spiritual alignment reminds me to set my sights on influencing others for the glory of God, whether my sphere of influence includes three people or three million people. On that final day, the Lord will reward His children, not for their level of worldly success, but for their faithfulness with what God had given them, whether it was a lot or a little (Matt. 25:14-30).

Over the past several weeks, Shannon and I have been going through the main sessions and small talks given at this conference. We’ve learned several fascinating things about C. S. Lewis that we had never heard or read before. You can go to this page to view all the messages for free, but I want to recommend a few in particular.

Why Lewis abhorred typewriters (9 minutes). Why did Lewis never back down from his refusal to use a typewriter? The ultimate reason is intriguing.

When Lewis declined to write for Christianity Today (15 minutes). I didn’t know that Lewis was given the opportunity to write for Christianity Today magazine. I also didn’t know that he turned down the offer. Find out why here.

Lewis on Biblical inerrancy (60 minutes). This main session doesn’t shy away from Lewis’ doubts about the inerrancy of Scripture. In fact, it digs deeply into the matter, unearthing some revealing facts.

C. S. Lewis is quite different from a lot of famous and influential Christians today, as Piper explains in his introductory blog post:

Some people are influential because they attract attention with their avant-garde, unorthodox views. C.S. Lewis boasted of being an “intellectual dinosaur,” not avant-garde. Lewis was not at home in the modern world. He never learned to drive. He never learned to type. He rarely read newspapers. And his clothes were frumpy. The air he breathed was medieval. In other words, he was not influential because he was cool.

Remembering C. S. Lewis, I want to avoid the traps of coolness and fame. Granted, coolness and fame aren’t knocking on my door to begin with. They’re more like the angel of death avoiding the doorposts stained with blood. Nevertheless, my heart’s motives are important. I don’t want to foolishly step outside those doorposts in pursuit of popularity; doing so might just kill me.

With that in mind, I want to glorify God and love others in how I write here at Happier Far. God willing, that goal will inform my efforts on the blog this year. Maybe I’ll never make it to the “big time” (whatever that actually means)—and that’s probably a good thing. Whatever the case, may this blog be a place where readers encounter the grace of God, not a megalomaniac’s ego. Lord, let it be so.

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