As I was thinking about C.S. Lewis over the weekend, I took some time to recall what I have learned from the great writer. Indeed, my earliest Christian novels were the Chronicles of Narnia and as I grew older I began to read as much as I could of the non-fiction that he wrote. My favourite quote from C.S. Lewis (and it’s hard because he has many) is the following: “Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.”
I think there is much truth in Lewis’s suggestion that we are inherently selfish in our nature as we would rather not love our neighbour and can easily find many excuses to explain our inaction. Christ commands us to love our neighbours not out of any goodness that might be found in our neighbour or ourselves but our love should be an overflow of the love, mercy, and grace that we have tasted through Jesus. Although some may think that Lewis’s comment sounds more like self-deception or fakeness, I believe that Lewis is pointing towards the fact that love is not just wishful thinking but tangible words and deeds. Instead of looking into ourselves to somehow generate some love for our not-so-lovely neighbour, the Christian needs to be constantly in love with God who is the origin of perfect love. Perhaps that’s why Jesus says that the first and greatest commandment is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37-38). We must first be united to Christ in His love before we can attempt to love those around us with the same unconditional love that we have personally experienced.