12 May 2016
Love Acts of Substitution
We are to love each other, that is, by acts of substitution. We are to be substituted and to bear substitution. All life is o be vicarious - at least, all life in the kingdom of heaven is to be vicarious.
- Charles Williams
I was listening to a lecture online last night about Charles Williams (the Inkling friend of C.S. Lewis and Tolkien) and his thought provoking writings about how Christ came down through love, as a substitution for us. Then, I had to pull my copy of He Came Down From Heaven off my shelf (that I bought in Oxford and read in Oxford last year) to read through some underlines I had marked through the chapters. Remembering the chapter specific to the practice of substituted love. How Christ gave His life for us, so He lives in us, and us in Him. This back and forth coherence formulates a thought process that surpasses all our earthly views. Since we formulate more selfish inward views in our daily lives, this thinking sort of bellows loudly the bigger cosmic frame if you really pay attention.
This whole thought of substitution means that our wounds and cracks cannot be healed by ourselves. Out of His love for us, He came into the world. He was operative in us before we even knew it was in us. He does for us what we cannot ever do for ourselves - dies and rises. This is the grand example whereby the daily example is to take over the burden or cares of others, and we can do the same as we offer ourselves for people in our lives.
To take over the grief or the fear or the anxiety of another is precisely that; and precisely that is less practised than praised....We are supposed to be content to "cast our burdens on the Lord". The Lord indicated that the best way to do so was to hand these over to someone else to cast, or even to cast them on him in someone else. There will still be work enough for the self, carrying the burdens of others, and becoming the point at which those burdens are taken over by the Divine Thing which is the kingdom: "as he is, even so are we in this world." (He Came Down From Heaven, pg.123)
Our earthly cares are called to be cast onto others, and upward they are released when they can actually be let go by one who does not feel the need to hold onto them so closely. There is a freedom in the release, but a weight added to the one who takes on the burden, yet more willing to release to God than the original bearer.
Christ lets us exchange places - to be in us so we can be in Him. We have to let go of our pride and accept that it is a gift we do not deserve. We are plagued with a split way of thinking in our western culture. We think that the spiritual is separate from the known of the flesh (the tangible and proven). We have a lazy imagination that believes in this and accepts it in our everyday.
The beauty of this realization of substitution is that the spacial macro cosmic of deep heaven is both within our inner being as well as out there in the grand place of the cosmos.