What is the Church?
By Joe Keim
January 1, 2008
I have to confess that there was a time in my life, probably around my 18th birthday, when I oftentimes wondered how it was possible that God could accept people into His Kingdom who were from all walks of life. For instance...
1. How was it possible and right for some people to meet in church buildings, and others had to meet in homes.
2. How was it possible that so many people from all different backgrounds, cultures and religions could believe in the same God, read the same Bible, and claim to get their prayers answered?
3. How was it possible that some God fearing people could get behind a steering wheel, turn on the heater, and move at a high rate of speed to get to their destination, while others were born into families who drove horse and buggies and unless they continued in that life style, they would be excommunicated, shunned and turned over to Satan by their own families and the church.
4. How was it possible that that some God fearing people were considered O-K and right with God if they were hooked up to electricity and used all kinds of power tools, while others were born into families who believed you could only have oil lamps, flashlights and hand tools.
I still remember so well, it happened during a time when we had a barn raising in our home community. Hundreds of people showed up to help that day-some were of course from our community in Ashland while others had traveled in from Holmes county and Indiana.
About halfway through the day, a Holmes County Amish man walked by me and immediately, something caught my eye. It was his shirt! He wore a laid down collar and the buttons on his shirt went all the way from the top of his shirt to the bottom. Now this really bothered me because in Ashland, we were only allowed to have three buttons and no lay down collar. I couldn't help but think of what the reaction would be from my church if I wore that man's shirt, even though he was Amish. Matter of fact, it bothered me so much that I went straight to Bishop John Brenneman and asked him about it.
Well, let's go back to our original question... how is it possible that God could accept so many people from all walks of life to come into the same place? The only answer that ever made half ways good sense to me was what the following man told me one day...
He said, "Joe-it's just like this, people from all kinds of backgrounds and belief's are walking up on different sides of the mountain of life. Some are coming up on the north side; others from the west side; others from the south side and still others from the east side". This man went on to say, "and in the end, we all meet together at the top and that is where God then accepts us just the way we are".
I went home that day and thought to myself, that's it!!! I just need to continue on in my travels but make sure that I stay on my side of the mountain by continuing to follow the rules and doing as I had been taught by my parents and the church. And then, once I arrive at the top, God would let me in with all the other weary travelers.
Yes, that sounded perfect!!! So perfect that I thanked God for helping me understand the whole picture.
But then one day I found a scripture that brought me to a halting jolt. It was the scripture that would totally wreck the mountain idea.
Notice particularly, the little phrase in the middle - "I am the way"
Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:5-6)
Notice that Jesus did not say that He was "a" way. He very clearly pointed out that He was "The" way. Four chapters earlier, (John 10) we are told three times that Jesus is "The Door".
Just like Noah and his family had to enter through "The ONE Door" in the Ark, so we must enter through "The ONE Door" which is Jesus. Don't wait for the door to shut and the judgment of God to come. Do it now while it is called today.
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