Almost unnoticed on the very same day as “Jack” Kennedy’s assassination, another man who liked to be called “Jack” passed on from this life. His death got little attention that day because of JFK’s death, but C.S. “Jack” Lewis also died 50 years ago on November 22, 1963. And with all due respect to our former president, Jack Lewis’ life continues to affect millions of lives 50 years later as well. Whether they fully realize it or not, every child who has read any or all of the Chronicles of Narnia series, was presented the gospel of Jesus Christ by Jack Lewis. Who among us is not moved by the sacrificial and victorious atonement metaphor of Aslan? And who among us that wears the label “Christ-follower” does not appreciate the pithy and powerful statement from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe that Mr. Beaver makes in response to a question as to whether Aslan is safe: “Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
Jack Lewis also lives on as a giant of an apologist for orthodox Christianity which the Roman, Protestant, and Greek Orthodox traditions all quote with great affinity. His work in the WWII radio lectures printed in “Mere Christianity” strikes the rare and amazing balance of an irenic work within Christendom and an uncompromising polemic against the irrationality of atheism and agnosticism. I do not believe improvement can be made upon this statement from Mere Christianity: “A live body is not only one which never gets old, but one that can to some extent repair itself. In the same way, a Christian is not a man who never goes wrong, but a man who is enabled to repent and pick himself up and begin over again after each stumble - because the Christ-life is inside him, repairing him all the time, enabling him to repeat the kind of voluntary death Christ Himself carried out.”
So, while people rightly remember the famous words of Jack Kennedy “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country;” let us not forget Jack Lewis’ statement which like JFK’s statement presents the challenge of choosing rightly. In this case Lewis states what God, not the President of the United States challenges humans to do: “Give me all of you!!! I don’t want so much of your time, so much of your talents and money, and so much of your work. I want YOU!!! ALL OF YOU!! I have not come to torment or frustrate the natural man or woman, but to KILL IT! No half measures will do. I don’t want to only prune a branch here and a branch there; rather I want the whole tree out! Hand it over to me, the whole outfit, all of your desires, all of your wants and wishes and dreams. Turn them ALL over to me, give yourself to me and I will make of you a new self—in my image. Give me yourself and in exchange I will give you Myself. My will, shall become your will. My heart, shall become your heart.” To paraphrase Jack Lewis: “Ask not what God can do for you, ask what you can do for God. But remember, what God gives you after you have given your all to Him is beyond your wildest dreams—a brand new life filled with wonderful possibilities.”
So here’s to the “other” Jack who passed from our midst 50 years ago. God bless his memory.