What would it feel like to be the only fallen man in an unfallen world? This was the experience of Lewis’s hero Dr. Ransom. He landed on Malacandra and during the story discovers that there are three intelligent species there that look very little like him, but are intelligent creatures nonetheless.
As the story unfolds, he learns that our planet is called Thulcandra, the silent planet. In this story due to the rebellion of our angelic ruler (eldil in the book) we have been in a state of siege in the universe. Our dark angels (eldila in the book) are not speaking to the light angels. Dr. Random discovers that he is from a broken world but has landed on a world not broken. As they ask him questions about his world he doesn’t tell the whole truth out of shame. They don’t know about war or greed or lust or division. I can’t imagine what that would be like.
To look upon people who are whole while knowing that I was broken is the opposite of Jesus’ experience during His earthly ministry when He was the unbroken perfect in the midst of the broken and sinful. Jesus suffers occasional frustration (like when He would cry out how long must I put up with . . . or when He would weep over our hardness of heart). But for us, the broken, to be in the presence of the whole would be a deep shame in our best moments and a deep resentment and jealousy in our worst moments. Like Isaiah’s vision when he is taken into the throne room of God and he cries out “woe is me, for I am lost,” for the sinner to see the absolute holy must lead to despair.
But this turned me to thinking in another direction. There will be a time when we stand in the presence of the perfect unbroken (unbent in Malacandrian terms), after all is said and done in the world. We will all be reembodied in the resurrection and there will be the New Creation where all the redeemed will live forever in the presence of our redeemer. Those who remain broken, who were never redeemed, will be sent into the terror of hell, but those who remain will live forever in the presence of God.
This is where the difference comes in. The question that we started with will never have to be answered because in the New Creation, when we see God face to face we will have been changed. In John’s language ‘when He appears we will be like Him, because we will see Him as He is’. There will never be a time when we see Jesus as the broken, since we are already clothed in His holiness and will be remade in His image. When He comes again for us, we will be changed. What a day to long for, when we can gaze into the face of the One who is perfect in holiness, and do it not only without perishing, but also without despair or shame. Lewis’ question is an intriguing one but praise be to God we will never have to experience it or answer it.