C.S. Lewis’s Narnia vs. JFK’s Camelot

For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ. (Philippians 3:18-20)

The parallels between C.S. Lewis and John F. Kennedy are eerie, to say the least. Both men were Irish. Both went by the nickname Jack. Both were war veterans but ultimately gained fame through their writing and speaking. And both men died on November 22, 1963, within one hour of each other.

From that point forward, their paths diverged considerably. Kennedy’s death dominated the front page of every major newspaper on earth. In most papers, Lewis’s death wasn’t even mentioned. While more than 800,000 people lined the streets to watch Kennedy’s funeral procession, there was no procession at all for Lewis, his funeral attended by a handful of close friends.

But today, nearly 60 years after the men passed, JFK’s legacy has steadily diminished while Lewis’s continues to grow. The New York Times recently called Lewis an “Evangelical Rock Star,” while TIME Magazine named him the “hottest theologian” of the year—42 years after his death. Comparing the legacies of Kennedy and Lewis, The Atlantic was forced to admit that “Lewis’s ideas claim the most lasting influence.”

Why such a stark contrast in the acclaim these men received immediately after death and decades afterward? There are many answers to that question. I’ll offer just one: While Jack Kennedy appears to have lived his life in an effort to build his own kingdom—the “kingdom of Camelot”—Jack Lewis lived his life for something that would outlive us all—the eternal kingdom of God.

As we’ve seen in this short series, Lewis wrote and lived parables that pointed to the gospel of Jesus Christ. He worked as a living sacrifice, giving up time and considerable amounts of money for the good of others. He viewed himself “as a small, dirty object” and spent his life in service of others rather than his own ego. Why did Lewis work in these ways? Because he knew that ultimately his “citizenship is in heaven.”

If like Kennedy, you work for your fame, your agenda, and your kingdom, your work will be forgotten soon after you’re gone. But if like Lewis, you work for Christ’s fame, his agenda, and his kingdom, you can know that your work “is not in vain” (see 1 Corinthians 15:58). Even if nobody in this life remembers your work, you can take it to the bank that God “will not forget” it (see Hebrews 6:10).

Believer, this life is a rounding error in the context of eternity. Don’t fight to save it. Like Lewis, spend it in service of the True and Better Aslan.


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