It’s a beautiful thing when a single sentence reorients a soul for good. When one proposition proves potent enough to be life-changing for the better. Especially when it’s a short one.
For me, it was the spring of 2000 — perhaps you have your own story about being rocked by this shorty from Lewis. An older student, who was leading a Bible study on my freshman hall, picked Desiring God as our semester focus. I emphatically did not enjoy reading and had made my way through high school and my first year of college leaning heavily on Cliff’s Notes.
It was only a few pages into the book — if it hadn’t been near the front, I may never have found it — when John Piper uncorked this revolutionary little claim from C.S. Lewis. It’s only a six-word sentence — but the context’s essential, no doubt. Here’s “We are far too easily pleased” in its native surroundings, from the opening salvo of Lewis’s remarkable sermon “The Weight of Glory”:
If we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased. (26)
Desires Too Weak?
Pascal had my attention at “All men seek happiness,” but now Lewis had me reeling with “We are far too easily pleased.” Does Jesus really find our desires not too strong, but too weak? I had long professed Christianity, but this tasted so different than what I knew. It tasted! This affirmation of happiness and pleasure and desire and delight was, to me, so new in the context of the Christian faith.
My notions about God and the Christian life were exposed as mere duty-driven, and my soul was thrilling at the possibility that Christianity might not mean muting my desires but being encouraged (even commanded!) to turn them up — up to God.
But Does It Hold?
Quoting Pascal and Lewis had opened my mind and heart to a new angle on God and life — that new angle being joy and delight — but my upbringing determined there must be a final and decisive test for this freshman discovery: Will this hold in the Scriptures? I thank God my parents and home church had so clearly taught me the Bible was trustworthy and inerrant and the final authority on every seemingly true line of thinking.
And with Bible open, it didn’t take long. Equipped with this new lens — the spectacles of joy — the Scriptures began popping like never before.