Come Further Up, Come Further In (Knut Kåre Kirkholm)
In 2023 we will commemorate that 125 years have passed since C.S. Lewis was born, and 60 years since he died.
I am an admirer of Lewis’ writings and have read him extensively. In the final book in his Narnia series, The Last Battle, there is a short passage that sums up one of our greatest desires as Christians in a very nice way. On the last pages of the book, Aslan returns to Narnia as judge, to judge the living and the dead. We clearly see the link to the Book of Revelation and other texts about the final judgment. Those who are saved are brought into the true Narnia. They discover that all the delights of the former Narnia fade away compared to their true homeland. One of the unicorns exclaims:
I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now… Come further up, come further in! The phrase that caught my attention was the invitation to come further up and further in. Having entered the true Narnia, everybody starts to run while shouting ‘further up, further in’. In the end they reach a wonderful garden, where they meet all their loved ones. This is of course a reference to the city garden we read about in Revelation 21-22.
The notion of running further up and further in is in line with a main message of the Bible: But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:33)
We are always called to go further up and further in. Closer and closer to Jesus. In the book of Deuteronomy we read Moses’ final speeches to Israel. He speaks about the wonderful and blessed land they are soon going to enter. The land is described in paradisal terms and there is no end to the abundance it has to offer.
But even in the land Israel is called to be on the move. The Bible describes the land as a resting place, but it is not the ultimate rest. In the land, God will appoint a place, a holy place. And Israel is called to come to that place:
But you shall seek the place that the LORD your God will choose out of all your tribes to put his name and make his habitation there. There you shall go… (Deuteronomy 12:5)
Even in the promised land, Israel must be on the move. They must seek ‘further up and further in’. To the holy place where God has put his name and where he dwells.
In the New Testament we learn that, ultimately, Jesus is this holy place. His body is God’s true temple and true holy place. God dwells among us in Jesus. We are called to seek him and follow him. And in our relationship to him, we are called always to move further up and further in.
As we get to know Jesus more and more, we eventually discover that it is in him alone that true rest and true peace is found.
Knut Kåre Kirkholm, Oslo (member of the FEET Executive Committee)