Read Luke 6:27-37
ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“And forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us.” (Matthew 6:12)
In his book, “The Great Divorce”, C.S. Lewis wrote, “Hell is a state of mind – ye never said a truer word. And every state of mind, left to itself, every shutting up of the creature within the dungeon of its own mind – is, in the end, Hell. But Heaven is not a state of mind. Heaven is reality itself. All that is fully real is Heavenly. For all that can be shaken will be shaken and only the unshakeable remains.”
If the above quote is taken as an absolute truth, I certainly take issue with it because I have seen, as I am sure most of us have, plenty of examples where hell is more than just a “state of mind.” The holocaust, apartheid, abject poverty, starvation and many other examples surely show that hell can be a very physical reality. But I am not so sure that C.S. Lewis, who was a rather brilliant person, was proposing that hell was merely a state of mind.
What Lewis seems to be getting at is that the person who gets locked up in themselves, a person that cannot move past their own reality to understand the reality that others are experiencing, the person who put themselves over and above others is a person who finds themselves locked in hell. After all, God created us to live in community with other. God wishes for us to view others, even the ones we don’t like so much, as children of God. We are, as it is written in Scripture, to love our neighbors as ourselves (Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 22:39).
But there are many people who go through life ignoring that commandment. I have seen people hold on to grudges with an iron grip, not letting them go even up to the point of their deaths. I have seen families split and destroyed, friendships ruined, relationships obliterated, and enemy lines drawn all as a result of the unwillingness to forgive. I have also seen that kind of hatred breed in the next of kin and their next of kin, fulfilling the word’s of Exodus 20:5 that state that the sins of the parents affect the entire family, even to the third and fourth generations.
I have also seen people simultaneously struggle with themselves in the midst of their hatred. I have seen them watch their families, friends, and even enemies slip away as they seethe in anger. I have seen such people end up completely alone, questioning if God still loves them. And what has been gained from all of that hate? It seems that, indeed, such people are stuck in the “dungeons” of their own mind. It seems to me that such people are really locked inside their own personal hell.
As children of God, we are supposed to look upon all of the people of the world as being our kin. We are all kin of God’s and we are all equally loved by our divine creator. It is that love that forgives us when we have done wrong, and it is that love that requires us to forgive others when we feel we’ve been wronged. To hold on to bitterness, hatred, and an unforgiving attitude is to throw ourselves in our own personal hell.
Rather than doing that, rather than trapping ourselves in a hell that is locked from the inside, why don’t we let go of our hurts and pains. Why don’t we try to reconcile ourselves with others. Whether or not we succeed in such reconciliation, if we have a forgiving attitude and pray for those who refuse to live into God’s love, we can move on into other meaningful relationships without getting caught in the hell of anger, resentment and hatred. God wants us to shake what can be shaken, to get rid of all of the things that separate us from God, until only the unshakeable remains.
THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“I willingly believe…that the doors of hell are locked on the inside.” – C.S. Lewis
Lord, free me from my own prison and fill my heart with your love and forgiveness, in order that I might give it to others. Amen.