“No man who values originality will ever be original. But try to tell the truth as you see it, try to do any bit of work as well as it can be done for the work’s sake, and what men call originality will come unsought.”
C.S. Lewis is one of the apologetical and Christian thinking giants of the past 70+ years. This one quote from Lewis hit me in the face while re-re-reading through one of the many of his essays entitled, “Members” . From a young age, I hated being compared with other people. If you ever wanted to see me blow a fuse, all you had to do was mention myself in the same sentence with someone else. As I have grown older, I realized, it is natural for people to compare and contrast other people with people who are familiar, and they do not understand explicitly what they are doing. So, in reaction to that, I was always seeking (confession: I still am) to be original.
I do not want to build on people’s work. I want all the glory; I never want to share it. You think I probably should use a past tense, but it is not in the past…it is a present issue. It has always been my thing to make a name for myself, I mean it is part of the American Dream. When I read these lines from C.S. Lewis, God sucker punched me in the face*. Most of my life, I have been uber focused on being original, different from everyone else. Because I have been so focused on it, I take my whole identity to be wrapped up in my originality. Now, I am already different from everyone else: the parents God gave me, the education, my genetic makeup, and a laundry list of other things. Yet, the Christian Life is not about being original from everything else.
My obsession for originality, thus having other ascribe a high value to me is completely and utterly a perversion of my identity; it is absolutely based upon what I or you think I should do or be. God is nowhere to be found in it. It is sin, let us not be coy about it. Sin is a perversion, a twisting, of what is good into something for what it was never intended to be. Yet, here is the great, amazing news. Jesus knows. It is the whole reason why the Son of God came. Jesus is my originality. I do not have to be original, God has already done it. I can, now, be a simple guy, doing my work.
*(Sidenote: I believe God speaks through many things other than just or only the Holy Scripture, yet normatively, authoritatively only through Scripture. All the other speech are pointers back to Scripture where the Word of God is revealed, i.e. Jesus Christ. There is loads more to say about it…and I’m still working it out.)
(Some of the thoughts in this post will be updated, teased out more, or otherwise corrected. Blogging is an ongoing process.)