[The Spirit] is the Builder and also the Dweller. He cannot dwell before He builds. He builds because He wants to dwell. He can only dwell in the place which He has built. – Watchman Nee, The Spiritual Man
Historically, the Church has built some pretty magnificent houses of worship, haven’t we? Have you been to Westminster Abbey or St. Paul’s Cathedral? What about the Vatican? The beauty of these structures will take your breath away. Recently, a church in Brazil built a $300 million replica of Solomon’s temple. It’s 11 stories high, made of stone imported from Israel, and includes a helicopter pad for the pastor.
I think it’s safe to say that, historically, the Church has been a little distracted by houses. Places of worship have sometimes been more important than the Person we worship. This sort of distraction is a common temptation.
One evening, I gave my niece a tour of our church in Texas, and I was struck by the emptiness. As we walked into the sanctuary, I realized it’s just a big empty room until the people show up. It’s when the people come to worship Jesus that the room is transformed into a sanctuary. Facilities only facilitate.
Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 6:19, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own.”
And again in Ephesians 2:22, “And in [Christ] you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”
This is a huge shift in houses! In Exodus 25:8, God told Moses to “make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them.” Under the law, the house mattered, and Moses spent 15 chapters of Exodus overseeing the construction of perfection. But here in the New Testament, God says, “I will dwell in them.” He was no longer concerned with a building, but with the body of Christ.
God’s ultimate desire was to live in us, rather than among us. For this reason, Jesus didn’t build a physical structure; He built a people. We are the temple of the living God. What a Builder!
Jesus, when I look in the mirror, do I see what You see – a temple of the living God? Thank you for choosing to indwell me. What intimacy! What relationship. Amen.
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