“Can’t you lead a good life without believing in Christianity?” Lewis opens “Man or Rabbit” by posing this question and then focuses the remaining pages on answering it. He starts off by arguing that any person who is asking this question is neither someone who has never heard of Christianity, nor someone who has found that they cannot believe the Gospel message upon thorough consideration of Christianity. It is the question of a person who wants to know whether they should even bother learning more about Christianity. He responds by asking why a person wouldn’t find out for themselves whether the Christian message is true or not. He points out the implications of what could happen were we to disregard the Christian faith if it turned out to be true. He asks, “Are we ready to run the risk of working in the dark all our lives and doing infinite harm, provided only someone will assure us that our own skins will be safe, that no one will punish us or blame us?”
Lewis states that this mentality of laziness – this unwillingness to look further into Christianity for fears it may be true – as being in a state of dishonest error. This dishonesty, according to Lewis will then spread throughout all of a person’s life, making him a worried and mentally-dulled person.
Next, Lewis argues that should Christianity turn out to be true, then one would have no choice but to serve its purpose. If, however, Christianity turned out to be false, then you would be obligated to tell the world about the fraud which so many people seem to be buying hook, line, and sinker. So in both situations, it is irresponsible and lazy to remain focused only on living a moral life as an individual. Lewis points out that it is important to realize that there is so much more to life than living with good moral standards. “Mere morality is not the end of life.” He talks about our calling to becoming a new creation. When we become truly human and we are no longer mere “rabbits,” morality is “swallowed up.” Our calling is to realize the full and radiant potential with which God has created us. It is when we have finally gotten over our pointless goal of living a decent moral life (for it is impossible to do of our own power) that we are able to fully experience the joy of living in the Lord.
I personally loved the imagery of the last paragraph:
“Morality is a mountain which we cannot climb by our own efforts; and if we could we should only perish in the ice and unbreathable air of the summit, lacking those wings with which the rest of the journey has to be accomplished. For it is from there that the real ascent begins. The ropes and axes are ‘done away with’ and the rest is a matter of flying.”
Lewis so beautifully describes God’s purpose for us in life. While we may think we are making headway by living a “good life” on our own, we are mistaken. We are merely struggling over stones and rubble, tied to the ground by gravity. But if we lift our eyes, we can see a whole sky above us. A life of beauty, joy, and freedom awaits us if we learn to leave this life bound by gravity and answer the call of our Lord Jesus Christ.