“You Can’t Really Know Jesus By Yourself”

I recently came across this profound insight by Timothy Keller and C.S. Lewis:

“Community is the key to true spirituality as we grow to know God by learning to know one another in relationships. In a famous passage, C.S. Lewis describes a very close friendship between himself, Charles Williams, and Ronald Tolkien (better known as J.R.R. Tolkien). After Charles Williams died, Lewis made this observation:

“In each of my friends there is something that only some other friend can fully bring out. By myself I am not large enough to call the whole man into activity; I want other lights than my own to show all his facets. Now that Charles is dead, I shall never again see Ronald’s reaction to a specifically Caroline joke. Far from having more of Ronald, having him “to myself” now that Charles is away, I have less of Ronald. Hence true Friendship is the least jealous of loves. Two friends delight to be joined by a third, and three by a fourth. . .We possess each friend not less but more as the number of those with whom we share him increases. In this, Friendship exhibits a glorious “nearness by resemblance” to Heaven. . . For every soul, seeing Him in her own way, communicates that unique vision to all the rest. That, says an old author, is why the Seraphim in Isaiah’s vision are crying, “Holy, Holy, Holy” to one another (Isa. 6:3) The more we thus share the Heavenly Bread between us, the more we shall all have.”

Lewis’ point is that even a human being is too rich and multifaceted a being to be fully known one-on-one. You think you know someone, but you alone can’t bring out all that is in a person. You need to see the person with others. And if this is true with another human being, how much more so with the Lord? You can’t really know Jesus by yourself.” (Timothy Keller, Center Church: Doing Balanced, Gospel-Centered Ministry in Your City, pp. 313-14)

The quote from Lewis is from: The Four Loves (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1960), 92-93.

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3 thoughts on ““You Can’t Really Know Jesus By Yourself”

  1. Yes – I thought this was a brilliant insight the first time I heard Keller refer to it several years ago. And now I’ve lived long enough to experience this for myself.

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