I don’t always kneel when I worship (whether it’s in the great outdoors, in my home, or in a church), but I did that day. In “Present Concerns,” Lewis says, “The man who cannot conceive a joyful and loyal obedience on the one hand, nor an unembarrassed and noble acceptance of that obedience on the other, the man who has never even wanted to kneel or to bow, is a prosaic barbarian.”
He goes on to warn against a “mind which hates all superiority.”
Superiority. Power. When we have power, we humans don’t handle it well. We often abuse it. We tend to run over each other when we have power and because of that, we can develop that “mind which hates all superiority.”
We can’t be required to kneel or bow before other humans with unquestioning obedience. Lewis says that it is “wicked folly” to require kneeling, bowing, obedience “on a legal or external plane.” That is, it would be stupid to legally require external obedience.
So, while we live in a legal equality with our fellow humans, CS says that “the whole hierarchical dance and harmony of our deep and joyously-accepted spiritual inequalities should be alive.”
Spiritual inequalities? Yes. There is an undeniable inequality between me and the God of the universe. Even Christ, who came to earth as a human, just like us, is still (in so many and all the ways) worthy of me bowing a knee.
That truth can be deeply and joyfully accepted by a heart that does not hate the “superiority” of the creator of the universe.
I am brought to my literal and figurative knees before one who is mightier, more beautiful, more pure, more majestic, more just, more powerful, and more loving than myself. And before a being so perfect and loving, this “inferiority” or “inequality” is a good place to be.
Yet, with so much human abuse of power and superiority, we recoil at the idea of obedience, and, as Lewis says, hate all superiority — including God’s. He warns us against it.
Instead, let us open our minds and hearts to the possibility of power and superiority done differently than we’ve ever seen them done. Let us slowly enter into “the whole hierarchical dance and harmony of our deep and joyously accepted, spiritual inequalities.”