Changing Temples

"Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you?"  1 Corinthians 3:16

I have had some interesting conversations with pastors recently, and I have heard the same theme - "People associate the church with a structure more than they do with themselves".  That kind of mindset is hard to overcome, and is the mindset most people in the West have of the church - it really is the church institutional rather than the church missional.  So, it is no wonder that the church in the West is experiencing a dramatic decline.

I think that the mindset comes from some good motives, but bad theology.  Let's see if I can explain.  Most people that claim to know Christ do, in varying degrees, want to do what is "Biblical" (that phrase is loaded and has different layers of meanings to different people I realize).  They want the guidance for the church to be one that is Biblical in foundation, and thus I would say that the motive is good and well-intentioned.  But good motives, combined with bad theology, doesn't get you where you want to be.

For instance, let's take Moses for a moment.  It seems as if churches today are looking for a Moses to lead the church.  They want prophet, priest, and king - so to speak - to lead them.  All things to all people.  They want their "man of God" to go up the mountain, hear from God, and come back down and give the marching orders (though in some churches, they want the "man of God" to go up the mountain so that they can begin building a golden calf I guess).  So, Moses is the idea of the pastor to many.  Good motives, wrong place.

How about looking at the tabernacle/temple of the Lord?  It is a holy place where the priest goes in to minister.  It is a place of sacrifices, and a place for the dwelling of God's presence.  So, naturally, we think that our church building ought to be the same.  It is the temple of the modern age, so you should dress properly, speak in hushed tones, etc. right?  Well, again, good motives, wrong spot.

The New Testament teaches us something about the nature of the church that, if we miss it, causes us to miss the mission that God has called us to accomplish.  Here it is:  You are the priest.  You are the temple.  You are the church.  That is a different paradigm altogether.

That means that there are no Moses' on the mountain - Moses was a portrait of the One coming to lead a new nation known as the Church.  The building where we gather is not singularly holy (though it may be precious as a sacred space) - it is the people of God that are to be holy, as He is holy.  The temple is mobile - wherever you go is where the temple resides (if, of course, you are a follower of Jesus Christ).  Just thinking this way causes us to act differently about what God desires of us.  God wants us to be the church, not just invite people to a building (which is not a bad thing by the way).  It takes us from thinking institutionally to thinking missionaly.

Where can you impact your world on Monday or Thursday?  Where does God want to use you to show His glory?  Where does God want to meet with you?

I guess the answer to that question is "Wherever you are."  Why?  Because you are the priest.  You are the temple.  You are the church.