home > Pastor’s Desk > 2021 > August > WANTED, NEEDED, WELCOMED, APPRECIATED

A 'Mere Christianity' Mansion with Hallway and roomsIn 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

Your Pastor,

Andrew

Let me know what you think below in the comment section and feel free to share this someone who might benefit from this Pastor’s Desk.

4 Comments

  1. LYDIA

    Many years ago I bought that book, the Screwtape Letters and was planning to read it but left it on the plane as I disembarked. Then I bought another copy and that disappeared! Here on this island of Tasmania I found one in an op shop! Well I had it made, but then I discovered Youtube had an audio version so I listened to that instead. Never truer words spoken. I enjoyed the ‘reading’ of Screwtape and Wormwood, how they thought to try this tactic or that one, distract and confuse the person, ANYTHING to keep a person from going to church, to wanting to put God first in their lives and serving Him within their Church Family. Anything to ruffle feathers or put obstacles in the way, or putting spanners in the works… anything to undermine God’s purposes! His book is so cleverly written that you can just see it all happening before your eyes… It’s an excellent example of what it means to belong to the Lord, what it will cost you, the results of this choice. True surrender and from that results fruitfulness. Thank you Andrew, I really appreciated reading your Pastor’s Desk spiel just now. It woke me up to the true realities once again.

    Reply
  2. Michael Sladden

    Thanks Pastor Andrew, an excellent epistle. Never ceases to amaze me how the lies of the enemy can be so subtle and so close to the truth. Amongst other things, our Church family helps us to be on guard. Blessings, Brother Mike

    Reply
  3. Gordie

    Fascinating. After reading Out of the Silent Planet and Perilandria in my teens I thought C S Lewis was “just” a science fiction author. I’ll now rediscover his works in a new light. Thanks!

    Reply
  4. Alan

    Excellent teaching, Andrew, and reinforces what Tony shared yesterday about things that decrease our “spiritual efficiency”.

    Reply

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AMAZING ACCESS

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WHY FINDING TRUTH MATTERS

How can we determine whether a claim is true or false? Some people think there are different kinds of truth — my truth, their truth, and your truth. But how do they know that their assessment of truth is true? After all, their assessment – that there is my/their/your truth might just be based on their truth rather than the truth. Truth has certain qualities that distinguishes it from what is false-
 Truth corresponds to reality.
 Truth is verifiable (that is, if it is true, it can be evidentially shown to be so).
 Truth is falsifiable (that is, if it is false, it can be evidentially shown to be so).
 Truth is sometimes testable (that is, claims that are experiential can be tested by experience – including scientific claims, historic claims, and existential claims).
We have good reasons for the believing that the Bible is true because it is the divinely inspired, reliable and authoritative Word of God which has been superintendedly preserved by the Holy Spirit (read more about this).

THE 5 MOST IMPORTANT YEARS OF ANYONE’S LIFE

Parents, Kids Church leaders, and Christian school teachers should be intentional about shaping children to be fully devoted followers of Christ who have reasons for believing Christianity is true – which shapes them into virtuous contributors to society and to find their role in God’s Kingdom. This will be one of the necessary and indispensable means for the Church to fulfil the Great Commission of Christ.

TIME- YOU CAN’T CONTROL IT – BUT YOU CAN LEARN FROM IT

We live in a fast paced world. We expect things to happen quickly. None of us like to be kept waiting. Even when we order something online we expect it delivered straight away. Some of us having to work two or even three jobs just to be able to pay the bills. We describe ourselves as time-poor. Yet, we all get twenty-four-hours in a day. Sixty-minutes in an hour. And sixty-seconds in a minute. Most of us need to adjust how we see, understand, and treat our time. This will involve, what will be for some, adopting a foreign and largely unaccustomed view of time that involves worship, sabbath, and deepening relationships. From this biblical perspective we will come to see time as a gift from God, not a curse, or source of frustration. Within this gift of time God teaches us how to worship in those times when it is difficult to do so. Rather than thinking this divine gift of time is ours to do with what ever we want, God uses this gift to teach us that we should gift it back to Him beginning with (but not limited to) treating Sunday as a sabbath to come together to recommit our hearts, voices, minds, and presence with God’s people, back to God. God gives us passing time to learn to deepen relationships – especially with our kin, and our friends. Time is meant for relationship building. 

I AM WHO I AM BUT I AM NOT WHO I USED TO BE BUT I AM NOT YET WHO I WILL BE

One of the greatest lies that the would-be enemy of all our souls attempts to perpetuate is that we are what we are and we can never change. This lie is whispered into the ears of many people’s invisible ears so imperceptibly that they actually think it originated with them. “You were born this way – and you can never change”, “This is who you really are – and you can never change”, “There’s no hope of anything ever changing for better – so you might as well just kill yourself” and so on. But these sly alien voices inside the heads of the vulnerable are lies. People can change. People do change. Some circumstances were always going to be temporary and were always going to change. I know this is true because I am living proof. I am who I am but I am not who I used to be and I am not yet who I will be.

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It may well still be the best-selling book of all time – and continues year-by-year to be so – but certainly is not the best-read of our current times! If there was ever any doubt about this, the events this week in Hobart, at St. Mary’s (Catholic) College Girl’s School, should remove all doubt! A furore erupted over the news that the prescribed Scripture reading for the year-end graduation celebration, which incorporated a Mass, was “Wives submit to your husbands” taken from Ephesians. Callers into ABC radio’s breakfast program decried this assault against women – especially young, vulnerable girls. One caller, responding to the news that the text being used was a citation from Ephesians, denounced Ephesians and apparently demanded, “Just who does this Ephesians bloke think he is?!” Another caller stated, “Why are they quoting ancient Roman philosophers in the twenty-first century?!” And yet another caller somehow linked all religious wars to passages like this one in the Bible! He remarked, “I’m an atheist. All wars are started by those who are religious! No war was ever started by atheists!” (Perhaps he had never heard of Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Mao Zedong, Pol Pot, Vladimir Putin, who were collectively responsible for the deaths of over 20,000,000?) This furore led to the Archbishop conceding that the Ephesians passage did not have to be used at the graduation ceremony. But this furore has highlighted just how unaware many Tasmanians are about what the Bible is, what is actually says, and why it says it. And I am now about to correct this deficiency.  

THE LORD IS MY ROCK

Of the many tributes paid to her majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, was the often noted reflection that during her reign the world underwent a series of rapid changes that were dramatic and unprecedented in human history. There were technological inventions that revolutionised the way people could access international travel options enabling them to be virtually anywhere in the world within a matter of hours. New forms of communication emerged with the development of a global satellite communications network enabling people to watch Neil Armstrong take his one giant leap Live on their black-and-white TV screens (as I did in the corridors of Corio Primary School in 1969). Space exploration, the stuff previously just in the realm of science fiction writers, became a reality with manned and unmanned voyages to the Moon, Mars, and beyond. But the past one hundred years have also been a time of great upheaval with empires crumbling, governments toppled, wars waged, genocides committed, pandemics raging, nations birthed, rulers assassinated, and massive refugee movements from oppressive Islamic and Communist regimes. Added to this has been the demise of professional journalism and the rise of internet-citizen-journalism where it is now common for TV News reports to feature footage taken from someone’s cell-phone which was posted on social media rather than the more expensive option of sending their own film crew there. And while we’re mentioning the internet, let’s not forget to mention – the internet. This alone has possibly been the most monumental change in the way people communicate, work, learn, and shop. But while it was noted that the Queen had witnessed all of these many changes, it was also noted that the Queen herself was an unchanging constant during all these upheavals who brought about a sense of stability, peace and reassurance. To millions of people around the world, she was their rock in a world of turmoil and change. Yet this was only possible because she herself had an immovable, dependable rock upon which she had built her life.

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home > Pastor's Desk > 2022 > October 7th > Who Builds A City On A HillFor those who don’t know, I was born in Geelong, and have always been fan of the Geelong Football Club. But I’m not just a fan, I’m a paid-up member of the Club. In fact, I’m a student...

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