Many years ago I read C. S. Lewis’s book The Great Divorce. It’s an allegory about heaven and hell, the connection between the two, and the perspective of their residents. The imagery intrigued me, providing much to contemplate, yet I was mostly confused.
Yesterday, I attended a theatrical production of The Great Divorce. Being able to see and hear Lewis’s words helped me better understand, yet again, full clarity eluded me.
However, they offered an after-show Q & A with the director and one of the cast members who had studied Lewis. About a quarter of the crowd stayed and several cast members joined us.
A dialogue took place, a fuller understanding emerged. One person would share a line or passage they liked, and as more joined the conversation, greater insight resulted. Some admitted to not understanding certain parts, but as others shared their perspective, the scene came into better focus.
One person asked a question and I thought, “He doesn’t get it at all.” But the discussion revealed that I was the one who didn’t get it.
The same applies to faith.
If we make the journey on our own—just like reading a book by ourselves—we may be intrigued, but confusion abounds. The result is more questions than answers.
If we add more senses and tap other ways of learning—just like watching a play—greater understanding can result, though clarity is still lacking.
However, when we experience faith in community, having a safe place to ask questions and engage in dialogue—just like our Q & A session—that’s when a deeper meaning and fuller comprehension unfolds. The result is added depth and increased appreciation.
Faith isn’t supposed to be a solitary journey but a shared experience—anything less is a mere shortcut that serves to shortchange.
[Check out my follow-up post about The Great Divorce.]
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.