Refuge or “Holy Club”?
Read Ephesians 2:19-22
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
What does it mean to be “a holy temple” and “a dwelling place for God”? How does this affect your definition of the word church?
God does not dwell in man-made temples, including church buildings (Acts 7:48-50). As the apostle Paul explains, the Lord dwells in those who have trusted Christ (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) and in the church collectively (Ephesians 2:20-22). According to the New Testament, we are the church!
The place where we worship is usually called a sanctuary—which is exactly what it’s supposed to be, right? The word sanctuary means “a place to find refuge or protection.”
The first part of the word, “sanct,” refers to an especially holy place. “And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst” (Exodus 25:8). So, it doesn’t matter if we meet in a rented movie theater, a great cathedral, or a contemporary new building with the latest technology and comfy seats with cup holders for our lattes. We are the church and God is our sanctuary. And Christ Jesus Himself is the cornerstone, “in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord” (Ephesians 2:21).
Here’s a difficult reality for some churches today: All too often, even regular church members don’t turn to their own community of believers for support during difficult times.
Instead, some hide their struggles and silently seek help outside of the church to avoid being judged, brushed off, or turned away with the proverbial pat on the head. Yet as God’s church, we need to be a refuge, not a “holy club.” We need to “carry each other’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2). Imagine how this kind of community would actually look! It can be a reality for the Christian Church, but it begins with each one of us.
Lord, help me to take my place in Your church—to welcome everyone into Your refuge; to share hope, love, and healing. Amen.