C.S. Lewis: Don’t lose your bishop

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And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God. Philippians 1:9-11

“We live, in fact, in a world starved for solitude, silence, and privacy, and therefore starved for meditation and true friendship. That religion should be relegated to solitude in such an age is, then, paradoxical. But it is also dangerous for two reasons. In the first place, when the modern world says to us aloud, “You may be religious when you are alone,” it adds under its breath, “and I will see to it that you never are alone.”

To make Christianity a private affair while banishing all privacy is to relegate it to the rainbow’s end or the Greek calends. That is one of the enemy’s stratagems. In the second place, there is the danger that real Christians who know that Christianity is not a solitary affair may react against that error by simply transporting into our spiritual life that same collectivism which has already conquered our secular life. That is the enemy’s other stratagem. Like a good chess player, he is always trying to maneuver you into a position where you can save your castle only by losing your bishop.

In order to avoid the trap we must insist that though the private conception of Christianity is an error, it is a profoundly natural one and is clumsily attempting to guard a great truth. Behind it is the obvious feeling that our modern collectivism is an outrage upon human nature and that from this, as from all other evils, God will be our shield and buckler.”

C.S. Lewis in The Weight of Glory (New York: Harper Collins, 1980) 160-161.

Notice as we move to Philippians, that Paul’s prayer for his partners in the gospel was that their love and knowledge would abound so that they’d be filled with discernment and righteousness.

In plain terms, Paul wanted the Philippians to bless others out of the abundance that flowed from their deep relationship with Jesus Christ. But, as Lewis notes, the evil one does not want this to happen.

How do we save our proverbial bishop, using this brilliant word picture from chess?

It’s simple actually. We cultivate this relationship with discipline in silence and solitude, and we live it out in community, regardless of what others are doing, making God our shield and buckler. But why do this?

We find time for privacy with God not just to grow in knowledge and love. It opens the door for true friendship with others in community. To make a generous impact in the lives of others, make time for silence and solitude.

This will not be easy in this busy, noisy world. It will require intentionality. Then live out your faith with boldness and generosity in community. We need each other to save both our castle and our bishop.