The second story is about a man who wore a mask that made him look more attractive than he really was. After many years of wearing this same mask, he one day takes it off only to find that his face has grown to fit the mask. He is now beautiful in reality and not just in disguise.
Both of these illustrations help with what Lewis will discuss in this chapter. Up until this point in Book Four, he has only talked about the facts - what God is or what God does and has done. Now he is moving into the practical part. What does the theology matter? What difference do the facts make in our lives?
Lewis begins with something as simple as prayer. When we pray to "our Father in heaven" we are praying to God as though we are a son or daughter of God. We are, in a sense, dressing up as Christ because we are nothing like the "Son of God, whose will and interests are at one with those of the Father: [we] are a bundle of self-centered fears, hopes, greeds, jealousies, and self-conceit, all doomed to death." Even the idea of the type of creatures we are pretending to be sons of God is somewhat outrageous, but it is actually what God commanded us to do.
Now there are two kinds of pretending that we ought to get straight before we go on:
- The bad kind: "Where the pretense is there instead of the real thing; as when a man pretends he is going to help you instead of really helping you."
- The good kind: "Where the pretense leads up to the real thing. When you are not feeling particularly friendly but know you ought to be... [so you] put on a friendly manner and behave as if you were a nicer person than you actually are. And in a few minutes... you will be really feeling friendlier than you were."
These are the things that make our pretending a reality. These are the things that slowly transform our hideous self into a beautiful self, that change our natural lives into the spiritual. The real Son of God is working in our pretense to change us and turn the tin soldier into a live man. "The part of you that does not like it is the part that is still tin." This is what the New Testament is referring to when it talks about putting on the new self, being born again - Christ being formed in us, and us coming to have Christ's likeness. The more He transforms us, and the more we move into that Spiritual Life, we begin to make two other discoveries.
1.) We become more aware of our sinfulness (not just particular sinful acts); More aware of not only what we do, but what we are.
We start to see that what we do is usually a direct expression of what we are on the inside. The external choices we make and the actions we take reveal the condition of the inner person.
Our inner motivations and temperaments are something that we cannot really fix on our own, so when we realize that the biggest problems lie on the inside of who we are, we realize that we need Someone outside of us to reshape, rearrange, and renew those internal qualities.