Without fancy church building consultants, no faith commitment cards and no fund raising thermometer on the wall, Moses stood before the people of Israel and asked for their help in building the tabernacle. The first church building program in history was to construct something that was little more than a giant tent with a lot of gold inside. The type of tent that could’ve been on MTV cribs, as long as they didn’t film the exterior.
Israel was sent out of Egypt with gold and silver given to them in the voluntary plundering that kicked off 40 years of exciting wilderness wandering. They would’ve been rolling deep in the exact laundry list of items that Moses was requesting. They thought they struck it rich. In reality they did, but it’s interesting to note that they were carrying the building supplies for the tabernacle.
What really struck me was how the people gave to this building project without any sort of pressure, guilt trip or power point presentation. Exodus 25:1 tells us they gave as their hearts prompted them to. This is a thought that Paul would echo in his letter to the Corinthians when he said that each man should give as he is able, as the Lord leads, with joy. (2 Cor 8,9)
We see throughout the Old Testament, taking care of His earthly house was of significant priority to God. He told Moses in Exodus 25 and many more times, to build this tabernacle to the exact specifications that He would give him. God would ordain Solomon to build a magnificent temple using the pile of wealth that David had set aside as provision. Centuries later God would go so far as to command Cyrus king of Persia to rebuild the temple. (a sort of spiritual outsourcing)
As we consider how important God’s earthly habitation was in the Old Testament, it begs the question: What does it mean to take care of God’s house today?
It’s really a misnomer to call our church buildings of today God’s house or the house of God. The New Testament tells us that we are each individually the temple of the Holy Spirit. (1 Cor. 6:19) That’s fancy spiritual speak for God dwelling in us individually. The metaphor goes further to suggest that collectively as the Body of Christ we make up a temple of the Holy Spirit. Each of us are the building blocks, or stones and Jesus Himself is the cornerstone. (Eph 4:19-21)
At the risk of stating the obvious, if we are the temple of the Holy Spirit, then taking care of our brothers and sisters in Christ is of paramount importance to God. If your temple, like mine, is doing great then congratulations.
That being said, perhaps it would do good for us to read to the words of Haggai.
Haggai 1: 4 “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?”
5 Now this is what the LORD Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. 6 You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”
7 This is what the LORD Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. 8 Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build the house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the LORD. 9 “You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the LORD Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with his own house
Living in paneled, well maintained home while God’s house is in ruins. It’s a thought that gives me pause as I consider the efforts and energies put into architectural structures are being served so well, while tens of millions of spiritual temples lie in ruins.
I’ve heard it said that if every believer were to tithe that we could pay off the entire debt of every church in America and feed every hungry person in the world. I don’t’ know if that’s true, but I wonder if it would matter. I wonder if too many of the churches would build bigger buildings, incur larger debts and all the while the real temple of the Holy Spirit remains in ruins.
Paul commanded us in 1 Thess 5:11 to build each other up. I know there are spiritual connotations in a statement like that, but I wonder if there is a physical element as well. You can’t read something like 2 Cor 8 and 9 and not know that serving the Body of Christ that are poor and oppressed is important. Maybe building each other is a far reaching command.
Would you mind searching your heart as I search mine. I know that there are literally tens of millions of our brothers and sisters in Christ who are marginalized, starving, and/ or persecuted. There is a temple that lies in ruins, what would the Lord ask of us.
I want to state that I’m not opposed to having facilities for us to gather in as believer’s. I just wonder if our priorities are out of whack. I know our brothers and sisters in Haiti make due with excruciatingly less in their church facility. I’ll bet we could find some areas that we could simplify and refocus those resources.
When Nehemiah considered that his people were in “great trouble and disgrace” he wept. (Neh 1:3) His compassion quickly turned to action. I pray that God would break our hearts, and move us to action.
Hope you can join us Monday night at 730pm. We’ll be back at Journey Church.
GOD’S BUILDING PROGRAM- If God is speaking to you, and you’re looking for a place to direct resources to building God’s house, we’d be happy to be the Conduit for you. Whatever money you donate will go immediately into the hands of our brothers and sisters, the temples of God in Haiti, Africa and right here in Middle Tennessee. You can donate online at www.conduitmission.org
Parenthetically, I think that there is one progress thermometer that does exist in heaven. The gauge of progress is blood.
John wrote in Revelation 6 of a time of justice that was coming. Under the inspiration of the Spirit John wrote that he saw under the altar those that had been “slain because of the word of God and the testimony they maintained”.
They asked God how long must they wait for their blood to be avenged. They were told “just a little longer”. And then this provocative statement: “until the “number of their fellow servants and brothers who were to be killed was completed”. The thermometer if you will, filled with blood, will one day reach it’s fullness. God said in Deut 32:35 “vengeance is mine”. Our God is a God of love and mercy and.. justice.