If you grew up in the south chances are you were told at some point, “Young man, stop running in God’s house!” As a child this was terribly confusing and I’ll bet for many it’s still confusing as an adult. It’s actually a truly amazing thing that thousands of years ago God really did have a temple on earth. The Living God Who does real things in history dwelt in the midst of His people Israel. All the other nations had gods made of wood and stone that couldn’t even set themselves up if they fell over. Israel’s God really lived in His temple behind the veil in the Holy of Holies where He could only be visited by the High Priest once a year.
When Jesus died on the cross the Bible tells us that the veil was ripped in two. Men can now confidently enter into God’s presence because of the blood of Jesus Christ. Even more amazing is the fact that the Living God Who does real things now lives in the hearts of men. Paul asks the Corinthians, “Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (4:16)
Why is it that so many well-meaning Christians continue to speak of God dwelling in a building when the Bible has made it clear that the Holy Spirit has now taken up residence in the hearts of believers? Here’s a thought: it is a lot easier to build and visit a “holy place” like a church once or twice a week than it is to live holy lives all week long.
Human know-how and will-power can easily generate enough money and time to build a building. Once that building is built we dedicate it, decorate it, and consecrate it so that it becomes a place where we feel like we encounter God. We dress up our bodies and our behavior. We sacrifice some time by visiting God in the same way we might visit a relative. Then, having done our duty we return to regular life not planning on encountering God until the next time we visit. At the end of the day we feel like we’ve made an effort and God is pleased.
Contrast the effort expended to build and visit a holy place with Christ’s call to deny ourselves, take up our crosses and follow Him. Paul says that because we are a temple of the Holy Spirit we are not our own. We have been bought with a price. Peter tells us that we have been granted everything we need for life and godliness so that we can actually become partakers in the divine nature. But this kind of consecrated life doesn’t come by paying a visit to church once or twice a week. In fact, this is something that man, left to his own wisdom and will-power cannot do.
For the Christian, every area of life should be viewed as a holy place set apart for service to God. Our words, our actions and even our thoughts are to be sanctified and brought under the Lord Jesus Christ. As we spend our life abiding in Him we will find that the Holy Spirit is doing the work of making us holy. This process strikes at our pride because we can’t do it ourselves. And it strikes at our hypocrisy because we’d rather choose to visit holy places than to live a holy life.
Cornerstone Church desires to be a gathering of believers who understand what the bible teaches about the church. We don’t come to a place where God dwells once a week. We by God’s grace live as people in whom He dwells every day of the week. We also don’t gather so that we can show of our Sunday best. We gather acknowledging that even our best isn’t good enough before God. We gather to celebrate and encourage one another in His grace and mercy through His Son Jesus Christ.