C. S. Lewis, Adventists, Kindness and 'Something Very Right About Them...'

Sixty years after Lewis made his observation, how are we doing on 'kindness'? (Sermon audio)

Devotional March 23, 2023

23 March | St. Albans, UK [David Neal and Esme Sutton with tedNEWS]

‘There must be something very right about them’

So said C. S. Lewis in one of his letters to an American lady, back in the 1960’s USA. This side of heaven, we will probably never find out who it was who made such an impression on a lady called Mary and subsequently her cross-Atlantic correspondent, C. S. Lewis.

It seems that Mary had been going through some personal difficulties and among her letters to Lewis (published in the book, Letters to an American Lady) she asked him if he had ever encountered Adventists. Lewis responded in his letter of 2 October 1962:

‘I never could find out what the VIIth Day Adventists believe, tho’ I had a long talk with one the other day, a professor of electrical engineering from your country. I fear it is very mixed up with attempts to interpret the prophecies in the Book of Daniel – not, to my mind, a very profitable undertaking. But he was a grand young chap, sweet as a nut and absolutely sincere. No fool either.

Prayers as usual!

Yours Jack’

On 26 October 1962, Lewis further replied:

“What you say about the VII Day Adventists interests me extremely. If they have so much charity there must be something very right about them. . .”

Yours Jack’

Forgive Lewis’s fear about reading Daniel and interpreting prophecy, but he unintentionally turns the tables on why there might be something ‘very right’ about us – which is certainly not for the same reason we have thought of in times past – and hopefully these days have matured of.

Extend Love – to the whole person

The first strategic value of the Trans-European Division strategic is to ‘Extend Love – to the whole person’. Reminded of this recently by a sermon given by Esme Sutton on the subject of ‘kindness’, and with the title of ‘Clothe yourself in kindness’ the opening premise was:

“We live in a culture where kindness can be a rarity. In our society today it seems to be the norm to be bad-mannered, impatient, aggressive, where tit-for-tat is the norm, where scoring points have the last word and bad-mouthing people is perfectly acceptable.”

Connecting Colossians 3:12-17 with the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:29-37, Sutton explained, “Paul gives a warning” to the church to live in stark contrast to those of society, “Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong. But always be kind to each other, and to everyone else. Paul is suggesting how we can bring out our best when the world is at its worst…”

With the call to “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness and… much more”, the sermon speaks with clarity, is timely, and with the beauty of the gospel shining through from beginning to end.

Take a few moments to listen. Use perhaps as the basis for a prayer meeting/Bible study group discussion. It is offered with a prayer for the Spirit to stir our community of faith to be ‘very right’ for one reason and one reason alone, to extend love, to the whole person.

Esme Sutton serves as an Elder of the Grantham church, British Union Conference. Featured image: The Kilns, Risinghurst, Oxford, the home of C. S. Lewis [Shutterstock].

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