Though hard to grasp today, it remains true that there is one Church, and it’s built on the declaration of Peter in this conversation Matthew records:
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.Matthew 16:16-18 (NIV)
When we come to faith in Christ, if we’re outside the upbringing in a particular church, we do have the sense at times of standing in a hallway, trying to figure out which church is right for us. Peter’s declaration should be our first point of reference. We should never enter a fellowship that does not proclaim Christ as Lord and Savior.
C. S. Lewis had an amazing ability to capture great truths in word pictures. As we think about the importance of the Church, he helps us understand how our differences can still be part of a whole. The foundational pillar of the Church universal is Peter’s declaration: Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God.
“Mere” Christianity…is more like the hall out of which doors open into several rooms (different denominations). It is in the rooms, not in the hall, that there are fires and chairs and meals. The hall is a place to wait in, a place from which to try various doors.
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 toward this?” When you reach your room, be kind to those who have chosen different doors and to those who are still in the hall.C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
The kind of music, the time of the service, or the strength of the preaching should be peripheral if the message is clear. Pray as you try the doors, asking the Holy Spirit to show you the place where you can best be of service.
Lewis’ admonition about having grace towards others who have yet to choose proves timely. People are searching for both solid biblical teaching and a place of belonging. Pray for those who have yet to find their fit, and don’t forget to invite them to your church while they look.
Grace and Peace