The ’cause’ that conquers our heart, our time – Dr Karen Walker
The Screwtape letters (by C.S. Lewis) contains advice from a senior to a junior devil whose ‘patient’, a recently converted Christian, needed to be turned toward their ‘Master’(Satan) and away from their ‘Enemy’ (God). Advised to lead his ‘patient’ to identifying with one or another ‘cause,’ the junior devil is cautioned to do it in stages, each stage taking the ‘patient closer to the ‘Master’ and away from the ‘Enemy.’
Stage one is to encourage the Christian to think he has adopted a ‘cause’ because of his faith. The second stage is to make him think the ‘cause’ is the most important part of his faith and “then, quietly and gradually nurse him on to the stage at which the religion becomes merely part of the ‘cause,’ in which Christianity is valued chiefly because of the excellent arguments it can produce in favour of [one ‘cause’ or the other]… once you have made the World an end, and faith a means, you have almost won your man… Provided that meetings, pamphlets, policies, movements, causes, and crusades, matter more to him than prayers and sacraments and charity, he is ours.”
Lewis has captured something important for us as we too find ourselves immersed in our world, often drawn to some contemporary ‘cause’ many of which are important to our time and place. Commitment to a ‘cause’ can be important in effecting positive change. Part of our calling as daughters and sons of the King is to be active members of a just society. History points us to many who have engaged in such changes. Sadly, the posture of some who champion their ‘cause’ is the source of broken relationships. Relationships have become secondary to the ‘cause.’
In addition to those listed above by C.S. Lewis some other indicators that the ‘cause’ has assumed pre-eminence in a believer’s life may include; a failure to listen attentively to those with different perspectives; an embrace of the means justifying the ends; shattered relationships due to judgmental attitudes and actions.
Ultimately, our only ‘cause’ is Christ Himself and His Kingdom. Augustine wrote, “Our hearts are restless until they find their place in thee.” That, dare I write, is our primary purpose as daughters and sons of the King.