Reflection – Five

by Pastor Pete Vander Beek:

Ephesians 2: 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.

2 Corinthians 6:16 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.”

“As important as it is to mark the places where we meet God, I worry about what happens when we build a house for God… Do we build a house so we can choose when to go see God? Do we build God a house in lieu of having God stay at ours?” I am hoping people are learning more what it means to have God “stay at ours.” BB Taylor in “An Altar in the World”

My sister, who is Professor of Worship Arts at Trinity Western, posted the quote from BB Taylor last week, and it has been causing me to reflect. A lot.  We are all in various stages of “missing” church. A huge part of that is about missing getting together with our people, but there is undeniably also a part that is about the building and the artifacts and worship rituals that come with it. 

The quote gets at the important question of whether we have boxed God in by having a building we think of as “God’s house.” Do we prefer having God in a house of God’s own so that God doesn’t have to live in our homes? Or in our hearts? 

Wow, what a good question to ponder in a pandemic when we do not have access to “God’s house.” It is a huge danger. Do you see the danger?

Contrary to the Old Testament language of “God’s house” or God’s temple — where indeed God did, in the Exodus journey, come to live among his people — God has left the building!” When the temple curtain tore (from top to bottom mind you, showing who tore it) upon Jesus’ death, God left the building. God left to live in each believer. Pentecost was the day that was formalized, with tongues of fire and special gifts of understanding coming to rest on each believer present there. Paul, the apostle makes that clear when in several places he says “In Christ, the (new) building is joined together and is built up to become a living temple.” Spirit led, Spirit filled people are the new temple. Individually and collectively. “We (together) are the temple of the living God.”

He is saying there is no physical building. It is God living in people’s hearts that creates temples of them and of groups of them.

So in this time of not having access to the wood and brick building part of being church, we do well to reflect on the danger of making the building an idol, and of putting God into a box called church, instead of having him live in and through us, individually and collectively, even in a pandemic.