Mere Christianity: Stones

Just the name of this chapter intimidated me. “The Reality of the Law.” Neither reality nor law are big favorites of mine. Reality is often overwhelming to me and law just gives me rules to follow that often seem to insurmountable to face. But the chapter ended up being about way more than that.

“The law of gravity tell you what stones do if you drop them; but the Law of Human Nature tells you what human beings ought to do and do not….In the rest of the universe there need not be anything but the facts. Electrons and molecules behave in a certain way, and certain results follow, and that may be the whole story. But men behave in a certain way and that is not the whole story, for all the time, you know that they ought to behave differently.” (Lewis, 28)

And let me throw a scripture in here for good measure.

Romans 7:14-20 (New Century Version)

 14 We know that the law is spiritual, but I am not spiritual since sin rules me as if I were its slave.15 I do not understand the things I do. I do not do what I want to do, and I do the things I hate.16 And if I do not want to do the hated things I do, that means I agree that the law is good.17 But I am not really the one who is doing these hated things; it is sin living in me that does them.18 Yes, I know that nothing good lives in me—I mean nothing good lives in the part of me that is earthly and sinful. I want to do the things that are good, but I do not do them.19 I do not do the good things I want to do, but I do the bad things I do not want to do.20 So if I do things I do not want to do, then I am not the one doing them. It is sin living in me that does those things.


I want to do one thing, but I do another. I know I should do one thing, but I do another. I know I shouldn’t do something, but I just can’t help myself. Well, isn’t that the story of my life?

Lewis talks a lot about stones. He uses the analogy that the Law of Gravity dictates that if you drop a stone, it will fall. The problem is that people are far more complicated and unpredictable than stones. If you drop me, I may fall or I may catch myself. I may break or I may only bruise. I may hate you for dropping me or I may easily forgive you and love you anyway. The variables are complex and infinite. And there are no guarantees.

It’s scary. And what’s scarier is that as complicated and unpredictable as I am, to me, you are more complicated and unpredictable. If I trip and drop you, will you fall or catch yourself? Will you break or only bruise? Will you hate me for dropping you—even though I didn’t mean to? Or will you easily forgive me and love me anyway?

And so, I live my life in fear of what people will say, what people will do, and how they will react to me.

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but stony attitudes and words will crush my spirit.

I don’t think these are the lessons that Lewis was attempting to teach when he penned these words, but nevertheless, they’re the lessons that I personally take away from the chapter. And the lessons I learn are these:

  1. Men are unpredictable, but God is constant. His Word says He’s unfailing and that He never changes. His Word says He is faithful and just. And that He IS love and truth and all things good.
  2. I am unpredictable, but as I serve a God who is constant, He can make me more constant so that I don’t cause pain and harm to others.
  3. In all of the unpredictability, I can’t change how others behave. All I can do is change how I behave and how I react to how they behave to me.

This post is part of the regularly-scheduled book discussion my friend, Jason, and I co-facilitate each Wednesday. We are currently discussing CS Lewis’ classic book, Mere Christianity. We invite you to come along whether you’ve done the reading or not. All comments are welcome. And if you’ve written a response to this chapter on your own blog, please feel free to link your post via the link widget below. Thanks for coming by! You are always welcome!

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  1. I keep trying to imagine what this sounded like to BBC radio listeners during World War II. Their lives were in sharp relief — beseiged by what most of us would consider the greatest organized evil of the 20th century, their capital city and other cities regularly bombed, rationing of all kinds of foods and everyday items, a foreign army encamped on their shores. These broadcasts, including the one that contained the thoughts and statements of this chapter likely pointed to the reality of the law all around them.

    Good post, Sarah. Thanks to you and Jason for hosting this discussion.

  2. Sarah Salter says:

    Oh, great point, Glynn! Thanks for helping to put this discussion into a historical context! And that reminds me of just how appropriate Mere Christianity is today, with the circumstances and climate we are currently in. I enjoyed your post as well, though thinking about alternate realities makes my head hurt a bit. Reading this Lewis is stretching my brain, but I realize it’s good for me. And I really do enjoy it! It’s also got me pulling some other classics off my shelves again. Chambers, Finney, Sheldon. Thanks again, Glynn, for being part of this discussion! 🙂

  3. Good lessons, Sarah. Thank you!

  4. Sarah Salter says:

    Well, thank you, Jason! I thought your post was pretty nifty, too! 🙂

  5. While Clive hasn’t said #1 yet, I do think that is where he is going and what he is leading into. Thank you for sharing the scripture which coincides with his points, Sarah.

  6. Sarah Salter says:

    Helen, I always was one that would jump ahead in class. I’m so impatient! LOL! And you’re welcome! While I was reading, the two things I kept hearing in my head were that scripture and the line, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but men will crush my spirit.”

  7. I chose th same scripture – and passage from the book — He has our minds on parallel paths. That’s why I always write before I check any other blogs…

    Amen to your words. God IS constant, ever and always.

  8. i am mainly just trying to take in what he is trying to say with all the reasoning.
    it tries my patience, yet, it is good to take this one slow and really think on it.

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