To get the full flavor of what this chapter entitled: “Mere Christianity” talks about I must take a moment to go back to the introduction of the book and share the experience of the author, Gregory A Boyd. As Boyd is running along a serene lake side road a couple of sounds stir him from the concentration of his running and slowly, an awareness begins to overtake him. Sounds that he had never heard, colors that he had never noticed, smells that he had never before detected began to over take him. Bit by bit he begins to realize that the Creator has touched him in a very specific way and has begun to make the reality of Jeremiah 23:24 when God asks: “Do I not fill the earth?” That is not to suppose that God is everything and everything is God as some religions teach; instead, it means that God sustains all things and gives life to all things. Paul writes that “all things are created by Christ and are sustained by Him”. The point of this digression is to remind all of us that as Boyd learned, God is always around us, always at work in everything we see and experience in life and as we learn to live our lives in the ever-presence of God, all things become and experience with God. Brother Lawrence and Brother Jean-Pierre de Caussade wrote about these experiences in what they termed as “practicing the presence of God” and “our duty to the present moment” (respectively).
C.S. Lewis referred to the practice of appreciating God in every moment of every day “mere Christianity” which gives the first chapter of this book its title. Boyd presents an interesting theory that the reason we are not experiencing transformational Christianity is that we have lost the ability to experience God’s presence in our lives as a regular and, indeed, expected practice in the Christian experience. This life begins in surrender and the ongoing practice of surrender. The modern idea of surrender is that we pray a prayer asking for forgiveness and then go about life as usual with the same agendas, concerns, cares and, dare I say it, selfishness, that we started with. Experience with God is something that is relegated to Sunday mornings and maybe Wednesday night prayer meetings. The priority of Christ has been left out. The Kingdom is left unsought (Matt 6:33), continuous prayers are left unprayed (1 Thess 5:17), and the presence of Christ is left undwelt in and vacant (John 15:4-5).
I would picture the context of the modern Christian life as an interstate, such as the one that travels a few miles from my home, that we sprint down at the speed of light. We get on at one exit and speed along until we get to our destination, never realizing the adventures and quests that lie just a short distance away. I remember traveling with my family as a young boy. We would drive down endless miles of back roads and country lanes from Georgia to Florida stopping at road side attractions, souvenir shops and many other soon to be memories and experiences. This is hardly the Christian life today. God is an interchange that has to be scheduled along the interstates of our lives. We go by an endless array of experiences and revelations of God about Himself and ourselves without a thought. Until Sunday comes and we hit the right off-ramp and role up into God’s rest stop and feel good because we’ve made time in our busy schedule to bless HIM with our presence.
Boyd makes a simple suggestion, and one that I whole heartedly endorse since I read Brother Lawrence 10 years ago. WAKE UP!!! Set your spiritual alarm clock, compel your mind to open up toward God; wait, watch and listen for God as He ignites a new passion and desire for Him in your life. Transformation begins as we become a part of the True and Living Vine that is Christ Jesus.