“What is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor.” – Psalm 8:4-5
Cuttlefish are amazing. Cuttlefish can rapidly change their color in order to blend into the background or the purpose of dazzling a prospective mate. The detail and vibrancy in their camouflage skills are incredible. But there’s a catch. Cuttlefish are colorblind. Their eyes contain only one kind of color-sensitive protein which means they only see in black and white.
They don’t see how amazing they are.
C.S. Lewis thought humanity suffered from a similar problem. He believed we don’t often see how amazing we are or how glorious our neighbors are.
In his book The Weight of Glory*, Lewis writes about his Christian conviction in the resurrection. Lewis reflects on the words of Paul expressed in Romans and Philippians, “For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.” In the resurrected life, Lewis envisions an undying glory given by God. Based upon this, he writes:
It may be possible for each to think too much of his own potential glory hereafter; it is hardly possible for him to think too often or too deeply about that of his neighbor.
The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbor’s glory should be laid daily on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken…it is with the awe and circumspection proper to [this glory], that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics.
There are no ordinary people.
You have never talked to a mere mortal.
Nations, cultures, arts, civilization—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.
And our charity must be real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner—no mere tolerance or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment.
Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses.
—The Weight of Glory (HarperOne, 2001), pp. 45-46.
* = The Hebrew word often translated as “glory” in our scripture has another meaning. The root word for glory, “Kavod” also means “weight.” The idea is that glory is the physical manifestation of one’s power, authority, grandeur, etc. Think of a ruler with a lot of gold or a massive army. They have a lot of weight. We still connect these ideas today when we talk about powerful people as those who “carry a lot of weight.”