“Don’t run in the church, it’s God’s house!” I can remember that like it was yesterday. Growing up we had a sense of reverence for the church building – no running, no yelling, no playing, no food or drinks and basically no fun. There was an honor associated to the church that my kids won’t grow up with. In fact, one day we had our second set of kids with us and we drove by the YMCA and the young girl said, “Look, our church.” We run, we yell, we play, we eat, we drink and we have a lot of fun.
Several years ago, I remember reading a story about Paul in the book of Acts. In this story, Paul is describing our God to the Greeks who referred to Him as the “unknown god.” Check out what he says in Acts 17:24…
“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands.”
So, God does not need a building. The temple, though built for his presence, was not built for him. The temple was built for the people. Max Lucado refers to the temple as “a picture of God’s powerful, passion of proximity.” God’s ultimate desire was to be with his people, but the people needed a reminder of this passion. The people needed a picture to see until Jesus would come and show us this powerful, passion of proximity in human form. After Jesus, the Holy Spirit took up residence within the hearts of God’s people.
To equate our church buildings with the temple of Jerusalem cheapens the work Jesus did on the cross. Jesus moved the presence of God from a building to a people for the first time since the glory days of the Garden of Eden. The reverence of the tent was replaced by the reverence of the temple which is now reverenced in the hearts of God’s adopted children. I’ll take that exchange any day.
This is part of the reason why we talk often of being like Jesus where we live, work and play. Because our hearts house the very presence of Jesus, he is with us wherever we go. Our responsibility of reverence is to reflect an accurate image Jesus to the people around us. This does not mean we have to be perfect, but that we respond to our (and others’) imperfection the way Jesus responded to imperfection. There is a difference between looking like Jesus at church and looking like Jesus everywhere else.