Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Friends, Gods, and Devils

I am currently reading the story of C.S Lewis in a book titled 'The man behind Narnia', which I took from the youth section of our city library. I like books from the youth section, especially biographies, since it has large prints and it's much readable. It's not that I have eye sight issues, it's just the ease in reading large prints.

I have admired C.S Lewis in a great respect as a scholarly writer and Christian apologist. His genius and intellect is highly commendable. But what surprised me in this book was the other side of the story - his struggles as a young child, early death of his father and mother, the fear, confusion and loneliness he endured as a young adult, the eccentricity he showed while being a Professor in Oxford and Cambridge, his late marriage with an American woman who held anti-american views, her suffering with cancer etc. Many of his early writings were rejected by publishers. It also surprised me the little things such a wardrobe and the ordinary people such as a gardener who have influenced him to write many of his books later in his life.

In this book, there is a chapter called 'Friends, Gods, and Devils' where the author discusses about the friend circle and the community Lewis was part of, while living and teaching in Oxford. He says,

They [Lewis and his friends] met on Thursday evenings, with no formal agenda or minutes of officers, but a common determination to share their writing and thoughts.

"Is there any pleasure on earth as great as a circle of Christian friends by a fire?" wrote Lewis. "The next best thing to being wise oneself is to live in a circle of those who are".

They usually met in Lewis's rooms, with food such as ham and cheese on the table and always a pot of very strong tea brewed by Warnie (Lewis's brother).

The chapter later says, they also met before lunch at the beginning of the week in an Oxford Pub called The Eagle and Child. It says, there was outpouring of wit, nonsense, whimsy, dialectical swordplay.

Lewis once said:

Friendship is the greatest of worldly goods. Certainly to me it is the chief happiness of life. If I had to give a piece of advice to a young man about a place to live, I think I should say, "sacrifice almost everything to live where you can be near your friends." I know I am fortunate in that respect. - The letters of C.S Lewis to Arthur Greeves

I get excited by reading about this kind of communities where people meet with no formal agenda or minutes of officers. Wow! What a great way of having fellowship with like minded believers? I agree with Lewis, "Is there any pleasure on earth as great as a circle of Christian friends by a fire?"

Somewhere along the line we lost it. We introduced agendas, minutes and officers and focused on it/them rather than focusing on the people and what what God is doing in their lives. We lost the sweetness of friendships, the casual encounters with people, the warmth of hospitality, the exchange of real issues with real people. We reduced such great fellowships to the unauthentic pulpit-pew system where there is no room for any exchange. We isolated ourselves from others in order to earn and achieve our selfish dreams and we said goodbye to the biblical model of casual but authentic assembling of believers and embraced the element of anonymity in mega churches.

I am wondering if there are still those endangered breeds of Christians who are willing to meet with others without the pressure of agendas, minutes and officers? And probably come together as they are and exchange their hearts in love?

8 comments:

RJW said...

Consider yourself hugged. You are precious and I hope we are a circle of friends...

To more love & Grace & fellowship,
Ryan & Jamie

getting there said...

I remember one of our life group gatherings was at the beach. We just chatted and enjoyed the fellowship. The life group leader wasn't happy about this but I do think that it was good to just be together and get to know oneanother on a more personal level.. we should always asks ourselves anyway.. is it our agenda or God's agenda.. coming with no agenda from us allows room for God to work in our lives. I have to keep letting my own agenda go.

Leonard said...

"It says, there was outpouring of wit, nonsense, whimsy, dialectical swordplay."

"Is there any pleasure on earth as great as a circle of Christian friends by a fire?"

I love this stuff, Bino, thanks for your friendship and sharing your journey with us all , seems like every other time I come around here, I get humorous tendencies, what's that about ?

Well anyway stop over soon and sit by the fire with me and well have a visit.
All Grace to you and yours.
Leonard.

Leonard said...

forgot to push, Email follow up button.

Amy said...

Bino,
Aaahhh...what a treasure you found of that book! Thanks for mentioning it. I have added it to my ever growing Book Wish List.

I love what C.S. Lewis said here: "Friendship is the greatest of worldly goods. Certainly to me it is the chief happiness of life."

Amen.

And also: "I get excited by reading about this kind of communities where people meet with no formal agenda or minutes of officers."

Me too! Yes, yes! I'm right with you that I am one of those who IS availabe, desiring and willing to meet with others in such the manner C.S, Lewis describes. I LOVE it when I can experience authentic opportunities to spend time with fellow brothers and sisters in this way. I hunger for more and more of it. I think Papa knows the desires of mine...and others hearts as well to engaged in more of this. Yet, He will lead us to them in HIs way and timing. But, I definitely do believe such fellowshipping is, indeed, important to us all.

Great post!

Blessings,
~Amy :)
http://amyiswalkinginthespirit.blogspot.com

Joel B. said...

One of my absolute favorite things about the last small group that I was a part of were the times we set aside every 2 or 3 months to get off of the 'lessons' and 'study' format, and to just be together as a group in a very non-formal way, playing games, chatting, etc. I mean, sometimes the regular discussions were fine, but when there was no set agenda, it seemed like those were the times we really got to know each other the most.

Bino M. said...

Ryan & Jamie - Thank you! We certainly are a circle of friends. To be honest, the only friends I have (as of now)!

getting there - coming with no agenda from us allows room for God to work in our lives. Amen! I am learning not to have expectations from others and not to push my own agenda when two or three gather together.

Leonard - Thanks! And your fire video was a real shocker! :)

Amy - Thank you! I too desire casual, authentic, real fellowship with other believers. I can't think of anything more fun than coming together and talking from the heart without any pre-determined agendas.

Joel - I agree. I believe God created us to be social, communal, connected beings and when that happens no wonder that we are excited.

Aida said...

Bino, I'm in catch up mode again. I really enjoyed this post.

Unfortunately, the only place I've been able to find that type of group is online. The local believers that I know aren't interested in getting together unless it's in a pre-planned format. An occasional lunch is okay if I'm the one doing the initiating. To be quite honest, I just got tired of always being the intiator so now I don't see them at all. They all seem to be happy with that arrangement.