Lately I have been doing some reading and C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters is a fascinating perspective on how the enemy works against us.
The “enemy” that is referred to in these letters is “Christ”
” I note with grave displeasure that your patient has become a Christian. Do not indulge the hope that you will escape the usual penalties; indeed, in your better moments, I trust you would hardly even wish to do so. In the meantime we must make the best of the situation. There is no need to despair; hundreds of these adult converts have been reclaimed after a I brief sojourn in the Enemy’s camp and are now with us. All the habits of the patient, both mental and bodily, are still in our favour. One of our great allies at present is the Church itself. Do not misunderstand me. I do not mean the Church as we see her spread but through all time and space and rooted in eternity, terrible as an army with banners. That, I confess, is a spectacle which makes I our boldest tempters uneasy. But fortunately it is quite invisible to these humans. All your patient sees is the half-finished, sham Gothic erection on the new building estate. When he goes inside, he sees the local grocer with rather in oily expression on his face bustling up to offer him one shiny little book containing a liturgy which neither of them understands, and one shabby little book containing corrupt texts of a number of religious lyrics, mostly bad, and in very small print. When he gets to his pew and looks round him he sees just that selection of his neighbours whom he has hitherto avoided. You want to lean pretty heavily on those neighbours.”
Pretty heavy stuff right?
The first part of the text that was in bold is referencing Matthew 13:1-23 and the 4 soils (states of one’s heart).
There are several churches that take “salvation” to an extent to where someone comes to church, is dunked in water and says a few words of a prayer, and somehow that is equated with salvation. Yet we see C.S. Lewis and even Christ suggesting that if the word does not take root in one’s heart…they will turn away from the church building/functions/small groups/accountability/etc. at the first sign of trouble or difficulty.
The next statement I italicized and made bold was an even more interesting statement. One of the greatest allies of the enemy is the church. C.S. Lewis even clarifies and says that it is not the Church that is rooted in eternity that is an ally. That Church scares even Satan.
It’s the church, not The Church, that Satan allies with.
“And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them.”
He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. 32 It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”
As we see in verse 4 the birds are the ones that take away the seed, which is the Word of God or those that carry the Word and those same birds nest in the church one it has become a huge tree.
This means that the enemy will make camp right alongside believers, they will look the same, sound the same, and even claim to perform the same miracles and prophesies, but the difference in true believers and those that do not belong to Christ…is that true believers bear fruit.
Church buildings and establishments are not inherently evil as they are used to preach the name of Jesus and encourage others to do the same. The problem comes when the CHURCH (the body of believers) remains within the church (building) walls shirking the call to make His name known in all the earth.
Churches so often are focused on numbers, members, and givers (money) as measures of “success” in the kingdom of God. The only problem is, the kingdom of Heaven is not of this world and therefore all of those things are meaningless without Christ.
It is good and right to gather as a body of believers and give to one another as there is need [Acts] but it is wrong to have the mindset that bringing people to a building will save them. In fact, all of Paul’s letters to the “Churches” were to bodies of believers and not buildings.
It is our job as Disciples of Christ to go out into the world and proclaim his name, not sit as consumers in chairs and pews, silently judging one another yet living out our weeks that do not reflect Christ in any way.
Christ is not confined to four walls. In fact “the son of man has nowhere to lay his head” (Matthew 8:20/Luke 9:58)…so if I am correct…Jesus never set up 4+ walls and sat still for very long. Even in the old testament his people were always on the move.
Let us serve as the hands and feet of Christ and not the left and right Butt-cheeks.