C. S. Lewis on “Jolly Beggars”

It is easy to acknowledge, but almost impossible to realize for long, that we are mirrors whose brightness, if we are bright, is wholly derived from the sun that shines upon us.…Grace substitutes [for hubris] a full, childlike and delighted acceptance of our Need, a joy in total dependence. We become “jolly beggars.”

From C. S. Lewis, The Four Loves (1960)

There is no better introduction to Christianity than Lewis’s Mere Christianity (1952). If you are looking for an intellectual starting point, consider this ground zero. Fleshing out the basic tenets of the faith are these introductory readings: Basic Christianity (John Stott), Christian Life (Sinclair Ferguson), and Truth for All Time (John Calvin).

Or if you are a more visual thinker, consider watching the Christianity Explored videos (each is only five to ten minutes long). For a more interactive experience, consider registering for a Christianity Explored course near you.

Then, take the next step. Pick up a copy of the Bible¹, ask for God’s help to understand His word and begin reading any one of the four gospels, perhaps the gospel of John, or the shorter gospel of Mark.

Find a Christian friend to discuss it with you. Read the Westminster Confession of Faith, or the much shorter Westminster Shorter Catechism, or the almost as short Heidelberg Catechism, each of which helps encapsulate the Bible’s teaching.

As it’s been said, “To realize our chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever is to appreciate the whole thrust of Scripture, to see into God’s heart, and to discover our own purpose.”

Attend a church, any one of them that teaches from a solidly Biblical perspective and explicitly teaches and believes the historical church creeds like the Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed. Ask questions. Make friends.

And begin the journey to becoming a “jolly beggar.” It’s the only journey that leads to eternal life with God.

Beggars who have good benefactors live as pleasantly as any other people; this is the case of God’s people, they are beggars, but they are beggars to a bountiful Benefactor, that is ”rich in mercy to all that call upon him.” Blessed are they that wait daily at the posts of wisdom’s doors. If the prayer of the upright be God’s delight, it cannot but be theirs.

Matthew Henry, The Pleasantness of the Religious Life (1714)

May God bless you, and may you find that all the answers to the questions that really matter are in Christ Jesus our Lord.


¹The authoritative translations of the Bible are, chiefly, the English Standard Version (ESV), the New American Standard Bible (NASB), and the New International Version (NIV, 2011).

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