One is either pregnant or not pregnant.  One is either in Christ or not.

Just as you can’t be a little pregnant, you can’t be a little Christian. Nonetheless, it should not surprise us that pregnant and non- pregnant women could exhibit similar symptoms, i.e. craving for pickles.  We would not necessarily conclude about a pickle-loving friend that he or she must be expecting a child.

So also it is possible that non-Christians can be kind and generous. Their commendable behavior, however, does not make them Christian. But my point is not about examining someone to see if they are Christian, but to assert that there is no sliding scale for determining whether one is in Christ. There are truly only 2 groups of people: Christians and non-Christians. The Law of Non-Contradiction explains God’s logic.  You can’t be X and non-X at the same time.

Why is this important?  Because God has proscribed how we are to treat both kinds of people.

CS Lewis broke into my consciousness when my mother, as a new Christian, lamented the fact that she could not make sense of Mere Christianity, that it was too deep for her.  My first personal introduction to Lewis was reading the Chronicles of Narnia to Graham the summer he was 8.  We took advantage of Wes’ naptime to lose ourselves in the magical world of Aslan and the adventures of the Pevensie children.

Then I, myself, journeyed through Mere Christianity with the help of a weekly group at my former school.  I moved on through Surprised by Joy, The Abolition of Man and The Great Divorce as well as devotionals based on Lewis excerpts.  But what has renewed by delight and lifted my thoughts heavenward is a collection of essays named for the first, Weight of Glory.

Here is Lewis’ stunning and arresting premise: there are no ordinary humans.

There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously – no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption.”

Lewis continues by starkly laying on his reader the burden of considering first how we treat each person we encounter.  We are either helping them heavenward or assisting them toward the horror of Hell.  And if that thought were not enough, he goes over the top with this addendum, “Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object present to your senses.”

So….what are we to do?

I was thinking about how we Christians are like members of the bridal party, getting ready for the big event that actually is not about us, but Jesus and His Church.  We’ve all been invited and are considered valuable participants.  When we criticize a brother or sister in Christ for not being strong or gifted in a particular manner like us, we are acting ridiculously.  Instead of sniping at one another, we should marvel at the other’s differences and thank our creative Lord.

My normal reflex is to be the Pharisee who prides herself in being good at X, unlike my fellow Christian/ fellow bridal party member who obviously doesn’t have it together in MY area of strength.  My busy gloating, secret smugness and touch of disdain prevent me from seeing her God-assigned role and her God-endowed gifts.

And what about those unfortunate souls not including in the bridal party, how are we to treat them?  Actually it is possible that we are incorrect in our assessment. So since we are not privy to the Heavenly Wedding Plans of Christ and His Bride, we would do well to treat all neighbors as possible fellow participants.  Kindness is never wasted.

Next week – Weddings Part 2:   God and Love