In C.S. (Jack) Lewis’s best-selling book, Mere Christianity, he described Christianity as being like a great house with a large hallway. Off the vast hallway there are many doors. Behind each door there is an even larger area where a set dining table awaits in front of an inviting open fire-place which complements the aroma of the just cooked roast dinner about to be served. Behind each of these doors in the hallway there are similar rooms yet each with their distinctive differences. God calls, Lewis states, each of His children not to linger unnecessarily long in the hallway, but to actively seek the door that they are meant to enter through into the room where they belong. In that particular room is the place where each believer is wanted, needed, welcomed, and appreciated. Lewis wrote-
“In plain language, the question should never be: ‘Do I like that kind of service?’ but ‘Are these doctrines true: Is holiness here? Does my conscience move me towards this? Is my reluctance to knock at this door due to my pride, or my mere taste, or my personal dislike of this particular doorkeeper?’ When you have reached your own room, be kind to those who have chosen different doors and to those who are still In the hall. If they are wrong they need. your prayers all the more; and if they are your enemies, then you are under orders to pray for them. That is one of the rules common to the whole house.” C.S. Lewis, “Mere Christianity”, Harper-Collins
Each of these rooms follows what Lewis referred to as “the rules which are common to the whole house” yet each has its particularly ways of worship, leadership, and organisation. The rules which are common to the whole house are the means by which a believer lives a holy, Christ-honouring, God-pleasing life. (Keeping rules, by the way, is not what many mistakenly refer to as legalism — which is the false belief that a person can be saved by keeping rules.)
¶ Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Second Corinthians 13:11
Although raised as a nominal Christian in Northern Ireland, when CS Lewis was 9 years old, his mother, Flora, died at the age of 42 of cancer. As a young adult, C.S. Lewis enrolled to serve as a British soldier in WWI and was injured in the Battle of Arras, in France. He was sent back to England and discharged from the army in 1919. By this time after the tragic death of his mother and witnessing the horrors of war, Lewis had become an atheist. After completing his studies at Oxford, he became a Don at Magdalen College, Oxford, in 1925. He tutored in philosophy and English and went on to specialise in classical literature. But Lewis was increasingly troubled by his atheism. If atheism was an accurate way of understanding the world, then why was there so much evidence undermining it? Lewis’s understanding of philosophy and language led him to seriously consider the claims of Jesus of Nazareth. Then, in 1929, he announced to his brother, Warnie, that he was now a theist (someone who believed there was a God). It would be some time after this announcement that he professed his conversion to Christianity, describing what happened in his book, Surprised By Joy, “In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God … perhaps the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England.” Lewis knew from his understanding of the teachings of Jesus just how integral to living the Christian life it was for a believer to then be committed to a local church. Once someone had accepted the teaching of Christ and His apostles, Lewis reasoned, they were ushered into the hallway of the great house of God’s Kingdom. It was their duty then to knock on the various doors leading off that hallway to find where they were wanted, needed, welcomed, and belonged.
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. Ephesians 2:19-21
Lewis developed a keen awareness of the spiritual realm and the intense spiritual battle that was taking place over every human soul. His later book, The Screwtape Letters, is a masterful insight into how the Enemy tries to hinder people from coming Christ. It is the story of a senior demon, Screwtape, writing to a junior demon, Wormwood, on how to undermine the attempts of their Enemy (God) from snatching a soul out of their grasp. The things these demons feared most was when a non-believer came in contact with a Christian because the light of Christ would shine so brightly through them that their captured soul (the unbeliever) might be enticed and attracted to turn to the Saviour. But worse than this, these demons were terrified when one of their non-believing captives accepted an invitation to go to a believer’s church. For it was the intense presence of Christ in the midst of His gathered redeemed followers that did the most damage to their evil schemes for their deluded captive because when Christ’s church gathered their worship and the attention they gave to God’s Word brought the clearest vision of the Saviour to those gathered. Even if they should lose a previously deluded soul to the ‘Enemy’ (God), Screwtape writes to Wormwood, hope is not lost. Do all you can, Screwtape tells Wormwood, to keep this believer from associating with Christians — especially when they meet as the church! And most of all, do all you can to hinder him from enjoying the Enemy’s pleasures such as enjoyable walks, good meals, fine company, and even sunshine. What Lewis exposed to millions of readers was just how central the local church was to the great spiritual conquest which God has assigned to the church to defeat the forces of darkness by leading a soul to Christ. This was, the apostle Paul earlier wrote, God’s “manifold wisdom” to “the rulers and authorities in the spiritual realm” (Eph. 3:10).
So that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. Ephesians 3:10
It is still the Enemy’s strategy to keep Christ’s followers from gathering together. And little wonder! The Enemy of God and His Church knows full well that there is great damage done to the forces of darkness when God’s people assemble to worship Christ, be filled afresh with the Holy Spirit, and give attention to the life-giving Word of Christ. The Enemy will use condemnation, trickery, deceit, delusion, lies, and offence from keeping a child of God from being washed, strengthened, and renewed by Spirit led worship, Spirit anointed ministry, and Spirit inspired preaching of God’s Word.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10
God has chosen in His wisdom to entrust the penultimate conquest of evil in the world to His Church. It seems that God loves to work with others in community. He is, after all, the Triune God. He has always worked in community. When He created the heavenly creatures in their various ranks, Archangels, Seraphim, Cherubim, Messengers, Watchers, Recorders, Guardians, they formed His heavenly family with whom He chose to rule. But when He created mankind, He created unique beings who bore His image and uniquely reflected His glory. God would be their father, and they would be His children. But then they rebelled against their Heavenly Father. As impossible and hopeless as it looked, God had a plan to redeem and rescue mankind through the ministry of His eternal Son becoming one of us who was then uniquely able to atone for our sins since He was now both God and Man. It was through Christ that God’s plan to rule the world with His children was re-instigated. A major part of this plan was for the church to learn that we are better together. This is why God places believers together whom He desires to cooperate with each other and pool their gifts, talents, and efforts to enact Christ’s triumph over evil. This is done every time a soul is rescued from the Enemy’s domain of darkness and brought into the Kingdom of Christ.
Giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1:12-14
This is why God has designed for every believer to be wanted, needed, welcomed, and appreciated in a local church — and why our Enemy does all he can to keep us from realising this. It’s also why every local church would do all they could to ensure that behind their door off the hallway every visitor would discover that they are wanted, needed, welcomed, and appreciated as a new member of their new church family, where, as C.S. Lewis said, they will find true doctrines, the means of holiness, the antidote to pride, and an opportunity to become who God has created them to be. This is why you are wanted, needed, welcomed, and appreciated by your church!
All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to Himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Second Corinthians 5:18-19
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