‘Hell is locked on the inside’ CS Lewis
‘It was for freedom that Christ has set us free . . .’ St Paul helpfully reminds us. And we need reminding, for too many who call themselves Christians are not free – enslaved as they are by their desires. Their lives are one continual ‘Oh, if only . . . I had this or that or the other, then my life would be complete . . . Then I would be happy’. And the demonic ‘god’ of our imagination says ‘there there, poor you, you deserve to have what you want, you have been mistreated haven’t you . . .’
Truly if this is our condition, we have not yet heard the Good News of Jesus Christ, and we have nothing of worth to share with others. We are like the Rich young man who ‘lacks one thing’, but will only find it in giving up that which he covets most.
Our covetous hearts are what keep us in Hell. (Hell like Heaven being as much a present reality as a future condition). And yes, it is our very selves, our hearts which deceive us, which delude us into thinking that our unhappiness is because we don’t have this or that or the other, or that it is the fault of others. It is our deceitful heart which feeds like Gollum on some ‘lack’ or some ‘wrong’ that was done to us, when someone ‘stole MY Precious’. For we do not have that which we covet most. Gollum is a type of the miserable one who cannot be happy because ‘so and so’ did ‘this or that’, or because ‘without X, I cannot be truly happy’
We will I am sure all be aware of this working as it were in reverse. Imagine a sunny day at the zoo. A careless visitor is stood with his back to the monkey cage, and the clever monkey, seeing his chance puts his hand in the man’s jacket pocket and removes a bag of nuts . . . but Alas!! The monkey cannot get his hand back inside the cage without letting go of the nuts!!!
Sadly of course the monkey is enslaved not by itself but by others – but the Good News is that Jesus Christ has released us from the bondage of sin, of covetousness which holds us bound. The human tragedy, doubly so for those who imagine themselves to be Christian is that we are outside the cage, and we have reached for something inside the cage, and cannot get our hands free. We have been set free, but chose to live in Hell rather than in the glorious liberty, the Happiness which Christ offers as a free Gift. We actually imagine that we are not free, that our dreary existence as Christians would be richer, more True if only we had this or that Treasure. We actually act as if we are inside the cage, and so distorted are our hearts we prefer it . . .
CS Lewis got it right. Hell is locked on the inside. All too many prefer the living death, the non-existence, the Hell of eternally licking their ‘Righteous’ wounds in preference to the Kingdom of God.
But for those who Know Jesus Christ, “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field” and we abandon everything for it fills us with Joy, with Happiness which NOTHING can begin to diminish – for it is the Totality of Life. The Sadness is when we relinquish our JOY, our Life in Christ for ‘fading treasure’ . . . relinquishing our freedom for a bag of nuts.