2430) “None of Your Business”

Alan Watt on Bertrand Russell - YouTube

C.S. Lewis | Christian History


     When I was a senior in high school I read Why I Am Not a Christian by English philosopher Bertrand Russell and it almost destroyed my faith.  The next year in college I had the good fortune of being introduced to the writings of C. S. Lewis, whose books restored and strengthened my faith.  Lewis’s writings still teach and inspire me.  His books have taught and influenced me more than any other writer.  I am not alone in that.  All of his books remain in print, many continue to be best sellers, and he has been called the most influential Christian writer of the twentieth century.  I often run across his name in the testimonies of great Christian servants and thinkers of the last three generations who also were influenced by this great man.

     Therefore, I have always thought it a great tragedy that Lewis died so young.  C. S. Lewis died on November 22, 1963 at the age of only sixty-four.  How many more wonderful books could that brilliant mind have produced if he had been allowed to live longer—another three decades even!  And yet he died so young, while that scowling old atheist Bertrand Russell was allowed to live and work until the age of 97.  Why, Lord?  And why, this year, was one of today’s most influential Christian writers stricken?  In June, New York pastor and author Tim Keller was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  Why, Lord?  We need these people.

     Actually, C. S. Lewis commented on this very thing.  He was in failing health for most of the last year of his life.  On July 15, 1963, four months before his death, he slipped into a coma from which the doctors did not believe he would recover.  He did recover and went home, though he remained in poor health.

     Walter Hooper was serving as Lewis’s personal secretary at this time.  One day, upon Hooper’s arrival, Lewis noticed that he was looking rather glum.  Lewis asked him why.  Hooper explained his reason, as he tells this story in his introduction to Lewis’s book The Weight of Glory:

     The reason for the glumness was that, living in our neighborhood was a fierce old atheist of about ninety-seven years old who went out for a brisk walk every day.  Whenever we met he asked if Lewis was “still alive” and on receiving my reply that he was indeed quite ill, he invariably said, “Nothing wrong with me!  I’ve got a long time yet!” (implying that his lack of faith did not hurt him, and Lewis’s strong faith did not appear to do him any good).

     I told Lewis that I was tempted—very strongly tempted—to tell our Lord that I thought it monstrously unfair that He should allow the mean old atheist to seemingly go on forever, and yet let Lewis, who was only sixty-four, come so close to the point of death.  “Mind you,” I said, observing Lewis’s face cloud over, “I haven’t actually said it in my prayers, but I’ve come pretty close.”

     “And what do you think our Lord would say to that?” Lewis said with a discouraging look.

     “I don’t know; what do you suppose he would he say?”  I asked.

     Lewis replied, “He would say, ‘What is that to you?’

     Lewis was quoting the words of Jesus to Peter in John 21:22.  Jesus had just told Peter to expect some rough treatment in the future.  Peter looked back at fellow disciple John and said, “Well, what about him?”  Jesus replied, “What is that to you?  You must follow me.”  The message is clear.  Do what you have been given to do, and leave the rest in the Lord’s hands.   As for other people who might seem to have it better, or be more gifted, or be more richly blessed– What is that to you?

     Peter was allowed many years of ministry, but he did not die a natural death.  He was crucified upside-down in Rome during one of the many persecutions.  John, however, was the only one of the disciples to die a natural death.  All the others were martyred.  John died a natural death as an old man, exiled on the island of Patmos.  But Jesus made it clear to Peter– that was none of his business.

     God has given us plenty to do.  It is our job to do what we have been told.  It is not our job to second guess how God is managing the church and the world.


John 21:15-24:

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”

“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”

The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.  Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”  Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God.  Then he said to him, “Follow me!”

Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them…  When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?”

Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.”  Because of this, the rumor spread among the believers that this disciple would not die.  But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?”

This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down.  We know that his testimony is true.


”Follow me.”

–John 21:19b

Thy will be done.

–Matthew 5:10b