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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Follow Me AS I FOLLOW JESUS

We all walk a path in life that is set before us. We start with very little experience and knowledge about the purpose of our life and the world beyond us. All of humanity experiences joy, wisdom, strength, weakness, suffering and hardship, especially those who are “contending for the faith”. Knowing Jesus is a very special part of this life journey.

A CERTAIN GOD

We can be reasonably certain about many things. In fact, without this certainty about life, none of us could function. We can be certain that tonight the sun will ‘set’. Tomorrow the sun will ‘rise’. After the February 28th it will be February 29th. This year there will be international unrest and much political instability in many parts of the world. In the coming months global warming will be identified by politicians as the source of floods and wildfires. Several high profile international celebrities will die this year. Archaeologists will make a discovery that will require some aspects of history to be rewritten. And you will certainly have one of the most memorable moments in your life in the coming days. You see, there are clearly some things we can be quite certain about. However, there are some aspects about our future that we cannot be certain about, yet in those moments we can be certain about what we should do.

LOW COST LIVING

Turn on any TV or radio news lately and there’s bound to be a story about the current “cost of living crisis”. We all feel it. Initially most people accepted the widespread price-rises were caused by 2020-21 pandemic lockdowns. But whatever the reasons for the rapid price hikes over the past two years, every time we go to the supermarket we feel it again. While governments are striving to curb the impact of this cost of living crisis, there remains a way to enjoy low cost living. The key to this is recognising that the most valuable things in life are literally priceless. The path to enjoying low-cost living is to be found in Christ, and what He taught — and it begins with treasure.

How To Know Jesus Better

It’s a scary thought to realise that the Jesus we have been told about and worship may not really be known to us at all. We can ‘know’ about someone or something, but not really know them. In Christian circles it’s often referred to as head knowledge not heart knowledge.

Knowing Christ Better

As a church, this year’s theme is coming closer to Christ by getting to know Him better. I feel that I am “the least qualified person” to tell anyone how this is done — but someone else has already claimed this distinction – the apostle Paul. After decades of hearing directly from Christ, seeing extraordinary miracles, being taken to heaven temporarily, planting churches across the Roman Empire, he could still say I would give anything to really know Christ – even if it meant suffering like He did! (Phil. 3:7-10). Therefore, I could say: If you do this or that, you will then know Christ better – but in my view, it’s not as easy as that! How we develop our relationship with Christ is shaped by several factors including our personality, our life experiences, our physical health and fitness, and our relationships with others (especially our parents and particularly our father). In fact, I believe that there is a relationship between how we have learned to build relationships with others (and notably how we have learned to relate to those who are closest to us) and how we then proceed to have a relationship with God. Even though I have expressed my lack of qualifications in telling anyone how to have a closer relationship with Christ, I still can, like one hungry beggar to another hungry beggar, offer you a few of the morsels of food that I’ve been able to find.

SOME PEOPLE HAVE AMAZING BUTS

I know of several people with amazing buts. There’s Jo’, Mo’, Sam, Esther, Jerry, and others. Each of these people were gifted by God with an amazing but that changed there life and the course of human history. Sometimes these gifts came with a …then, or …God, or …the LORD. When it comes to the size of things, a but is a relatively small thing (in Greek it can be just two letters: de) but it can have huge implications and enormously great blessings for multitudes. I hope to show you how this was the case with each of the people I have chosen as samples, and then show you how God is your God of buts.

OPEN

What does the word ‘open’ mean to you? Like language itself, it is like any word in which the meaning only comes from the context in which it is used. I can think of at least 12 different understandings of this word, some of which I will point out, most I will not, and one that I focus on because it is prophetically important for where we are at as a church at this crucial time.

ONE THING I HAVE TO SAY

​I’m always amazed at the really cool events I’d organised for my kids to experience, so that they might have happy memories – but now they don’t remember it except the random comment someone made in the car trip on the way there or what snack was eaten. Conversely, if you make a mistake, well that one is remembered! Once I drove Andrew’s car and just lightly hit something so it ended up with an annoying 2cm scratch. The mistake is (still) there in full view to anyone who looks. Is Andrew going to remember this above the years of my devotion to him? (Not likely, but some people do remember the wrong for way too long!) If you had the choice, what one thing would you want to be remembered for? What one thing would you want your family to remember? It’s not often going to be the thing you have in mind.

‘Famous last words’ comes from the hope that you’ll be remembered for them. If you were given the privilege of being able to articulate as the important thing to say, to be remembered by all, what would it be? Would it be a reflection on your love toward someone? Would it be a directive on how to have the best life? Would it be that you wished you had done something? Someone once mused, ‘would your dying words be that you’d wished you’d spent just one more day in the office’? (Not likely.)

AT THE END OF THIS YEAR I WILL RECOUNT 12 WONDERFUL THINGS (An Explication of Psalm 9)

This is my last end-of-year Pastor’s Desk post. When the head of our Live-stream ministry, Sari, asked me what I was thankful for this year, my immediate answer was obvious and predictable. But since then, I have considered that I also have eleven other things for which I am grateful to GOD for. In this last ever end-of-year Pastor’s Desk please indulge as I share my heartfelt thanks to God and for those God has used to bless me this year.

HE WAS BORN A KING

The king who reigned over Judea when Jesus was born was Herod the Great. Herod had no legitimate claim to the throne of Israel. He was from an Idumean noble family who supported the Roman occupation of Palestine. As a reward he was appointed by the Roman Senate as the King of Judea. Despite his attempts to curry favour with the Jews, including several major public works programs (including completing the temple reconstruction) he was still largely unpopular among the Jews. Little wonder then that when the Magi arrived in Jerusalem with their large retinue and requested to view the birth of the prophesied King of the Jews, Herod was emotionally threatened by this revelation. Herod immediately ordered an enquiry from the chief priests and religious scribes.