Mere Christianity, Book 2: What Christians Believe
Chapter 3: The Shocking Alternative
If evil is contrary to God’s will, how then can it go on? If God is all powerful, why doesn’t he stop it, and if God is truly Good, why does he allow it? Lewis presents a broader view of “willingness” by demonstrating that commands that are voluntarily followed may not produce the desired or “willed” result, however, it was the will of the person making the command that made obedience possible.
If one is free to obey, one is also free to disobey, but both are free by the will of the Creator. The ability to choose between good and evil lies in one’s response to the self. Lewis traces all sin back to the placement of self before God, or more accurately the placement of self as God.
The injustice of the universe about which we so often complain; the pain and tragedy we lament, grows out of this attempt by humanity to be our own masters, to create our own happiness, and to acquire wisdom and peace outside of and apart from God. The serpent promised as much, “You shall be as God (equal to, not subject to), knowing good and evil.” Self -worship is the fuel of modern civilization. Lewis calls it “the wrong juice”.
But God has not left us alone in this folly. Our conscience speaks of what is right and good and just. Our common stories and myths give us dim reflections of the kind of world our souls long for, as Lewis would write elsewhere, after being influenced by J.R.R. Tolkien, “The story of Christ is simply a true myth: a myth working on us in the same way as the others, but with this tremendous difference that it really happened.” The scriptural record of God’s dealing with the Jewish nation reminds us of His will for our lives.
Finally, by the will of God, the God-man comes. Conscience becomes conviction, myth becomes history, and the hope of Israel becomes the Savior of the world because the word became flesh and dwelt among us. He answers evil by giving himself. He faces it, he takes it, he conquers it, and he again offers to humanity a joy, purpose, and wisdom found only in him. It’s a choice, are you willing to receive what he offers, or not?