Big old houses have always fascinated me. I am excited to explore rooms and to discover unique nooks and crannies. A few years ago, Sara Faye and I toured the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. We spent a full day exploring the Biltmore House which, built by George Vanderbilt in the 1890s, contains 250 rooms, 65 fireplaces and is the largest house in the United States (http://www.biltmore.com ). It is fascinating, isn’t it, that Paul refers to Christ’s people around the world as a living building, a holy temple, a dwelling-place for God by his Spirit (Eph. 2:19-22; 1 Tim. 3:15). The church is God’s great house — bigger and more wonderful by far than the Biltmore house and a thousand others like it combined.
Last Sunday I was substitute teacher for a class at Champion Forest Baptist Church in northwest Houston (http://www.championforest.org ). Because the class meets at 11:00 a.m., I took the opportunity to attend the 8:00 a.m. service at Church of the Holy Apostles (Episcopal) in my own suburb of Katy (http://www.holyapostles.cc/index.as). Driving home from Champion Forest later that morning, I listened to parts of two sermons on the radio — “Renewing Your Mind” with Presbyterian preacher Dr. R. C. Sproul (http://www.ligonier.org ) followed by Dr. Ken Klaus on “The Lutheran Hour” (http://lutheranhour.org ). Sunday evening I attended a children’s musical at my home congregation, Bering Drive Church of Christ (http://www.beringfamily.org).
These different “rooms” in God’s house are as diverse and unique as the various parts of the Vanderbilt mansion in North Carolina. The Episcopal congregation continues a blended heritage that includes some of the best of Protestant teaching and Catholic liturgy. Dr Sproul and Dr. Klaus carry on the witness of the two major wings of the Reformation. The Baptist congregation preserves elements of the ancient Anabaptists, the “radical wing of the Reformation.” And the Church of Christ fellowship continues the vision of those 19th century Americans from a variety of denominations who joined forces to seek Christian unity through a restoration of what they considered important elements of New Testament Christianity. Like every Christian ancient and modern, these various believers — Anglican, Baptist, Reformed, Lutheran and Church of Christ — all have strengths and weaknesses, elements both beautiful and ugly. Yet these all, along with every other person joined to Christ by faith, are part of the great house of God — one house, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Christ Jesus himself as cornerstone (Eph. 2:20).
In each experience last Sunday I heard the same underlying message, a proclamation that Jesus is Lord and Savior, and a call to commit our lives to him in faithful service. I give thanks to God that he has made me a “living stone” in his worldwide mansion. I give thanks to him for the rich diversity of beautiful rooms that house contains. And I pray every day, in the words of the Book of Common Prayer, “for all who proclaim the gospel, and for all who seek the truth.” Amen.