Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Church May Be Called the House of God, But You Are the Temple of the Holy Spirit


Yesterday I reposted something I wrote a while back regarding that whenever we meet as Christians, it is church.  I want to address that issue again today but from a different angle.  I think one reason we do not recognize that our fellowship is actually church is that we have overly formalized our church services and turned them into more than they were meant to be.  First I will share the pertinent Scripture to today's theme as a whole.
For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them. Matthew 18:20 NKJV
First of all, I am not saying that there should not be formal church services.  The Bible tells us to not give up meeting together as a church. I am also not saying that church services should not be structured and have some formality.  The Bible gives clear instruction that church services should be ordered.  I am also not saying that we should stop attending church or begin to believe that we can be obedient to God while acting in disobedience in not going to church.  We are part of the Body of Christ and church is where we receive a good part of our training. 

The problem is not in church services, but often in how we perceive them.  We say that we are going to the "House of God" or that we are entering into the "Presence of the Lord." Many of us put on our "Sunday best" to "honor" God with our appearance.  We also speak and act differently in that we are on our "best behavior" in church.  We talk about God, we sing worship songs, we close our eyes in prayer, and we listen to the Word as preached by the pastor. Everyone is our brother and sister and even old grudges and arguments tend to not rear their ugly heads in the middle of a church service.  We see church as something special, as this special holy thing we go to once a week, and the place to make ourselves right with God.  There is one major problem with that perception of church and that problem is that it gives us an excuse to be different outside of church. 

If we see church as going to the "House of God" or that we are somehow entering into the "Presence of the Lord" then what does that mean for us as the "Temple of the Holy Spirit?"  That is what the Bible calls us.  God does not live in whatever building you meet in for church.  He is not there waiting for you to come into His presence.  God lives in our hearts in the form of the Holy Spirit.  If going to the so-called House of God somehow changes your behavior then that behavior should be your reality all the time.  If coming into His presence changes your behavior then your behavior should be changed all the time.  We are the House of God.  We are perpetually in His presence.  Elevating church to that status has only worked to give us an excuse to act different when we are outside of church. 

If we put on our "Sunday best" to come to church, then why do we not dress that way whenever we are with other Christians?  I opened with Matthew 18:20 where Jesus tells us that whenever even 2 or more are gathered in His name, He is in their midst.  In other words, if you are home with your wife and you both are Christian, then you are both at church.  Do you sleep in a suit?  Does your wife do laundry in a dress?  If not, then why not?  Jesus is in your midst, so where is you "respect?"  Do you see my point?  We are not dressing up to honor God, but to put on a sign before man.  If we thought we should dress up to honor God, then we should always be dressed up even when no one else can see us.  Biblically speaking, we should not even be wearing expensive clothing to church anyway.  We should be wearing our "Sunday's most modest."  We should not be ornately dressed, but modestly dressed so as to not draw attention to ourselves.  Furthermore, this idea of getting dressed up for church only works to perpetuate the over-elevated status we have for church.  I am not saying that it is wrong to dress up for church, I am only saying to be honest about it.  You are not dressing up for God, but for man.  You want to look good and you want to portray yourself as being respectful.  Clothes do not fool God, though.  God is not impressed with how well-pressed and tailored is your suit, but how your heart stands with Jesus.  However, if you insist you are dressing up for God, then please answer why that holy dress code only applies for an hour or two a week when you are in His presence the entire week? 

If we are on our best behavior at church, then how do we behave the rest of the week?  Why do we think that we should behave better at church than we do in the world?  I never really get this one except to say that those who are a different person in church and out of church have a real authenticity issue. God is with you wherever you are so why are things different at church?  If you get drunk when hanging out with other Christians, then why don't you get drunk at church?  If you use profanity around other people, then why not use it at church?  Do you think you are fooling God in trying to behave at church?  I doubt that is the issue.  I think it is more likely that you do not want your brothers and sisters at church to know who you really are.  Church is not some special place where God pays more attention to our behavior that He does anywhere else so why do we make it to be that way?  If anything, church is where go to be trained to be those men and women of God that God has called us to be so being fake is only cheating ourselves.

The point I am making is that we have elevated church to such a high status that it becomes and excuse to act differently the rest of the week.  We need to give up the idea of our church buildings being the house of God and realize the Scriptural concept that each of us is the Temple of God.  We need to give up the idea of going into the presence of the Lord when God lives in our hearts and the Lord is in our midst whenever we meet with fellow believers.  We need to give up the idea that dressing to impress on Sunday mornings and put on Jesus Christ all the days of our lives.   We need to stop acting righteously to a church that has Jesus but learn to live righteously as a testimony to a world that needs Jesus.  God is wherever we are and it is our duty to share Him with an unbelieving world.  What we commonly call church is just a building where we meet.  That is not the church at all.  You are the church, wherever you are, every day of the week. 
Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.  1 Corinthians 12:27 NKJV

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