At the end of The Last Battle Lewis draws this conclusion about the children’s adventure in Narnia, and about the reality of life on earth:
“All their life in this world and all their adventures had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”
My cousin Eric made mention of this quote at my Memaw’s funeral last Friday and it struck me as a profound and principle organizing statement for first theology.
The logic moves thusly: If it is true this life (earth) is only the title page or the preface to the grand narrative of eternity, then it follows that the primary aim of this life, for believers in Christ, is to “set up” the grand narrative of eternity.
Therefore, if all of our earthly life is meant to set up eternity, then “preface” type language becomes the organizing framework for the theology and mission of the local church.
In other words, “set up for eternity” is the answer for why we do anything.
- Why do local churches have a kids ministry? To ease the parents’ attention span so they can pay attention in the worship service? Yes. But even more because we need to set these kids up for eternity.
- Why do local churches have a particular mission statement? To differentiate ourselves from that other church down the street? No. It is because we are called to set our people and our neighborhood up for eternity.
- Why do we give? Because local churches need to pay their staff. Yes. But even more because money is not something that sets us up for this life. It is a tool/resource that the local church can use to set up this society for eternity.
This idea of my life being part of the preface to eternity has me thinking anew about life and ministry.