(Translated version, originally shared by Pastor Mickey Hsiao on April 27th, 2020)
Dear brothers and sisters, shalom!
Before you continue to read this article, please take a moment to turn to your family member(s) and tell them: “I love you (all)! Thank you!” Lately we have spent more time with each other and were given more opportunities to understand each other’s needs. Please be more proactive in expressing your appreciation for your family members as they have been taking care of each other, along with accommodation and acceptance for one another.
Under the special circumstance of the pandemic, only through the Internet—a virtual meeting place with no droplets nor social-distancing—we were able to meet each other, host worship services, and to fulfill our need for uninterrupted gatherings. Today, I would like to share my reflections on God’s “TEMPLE” and I hope this will help us level up our mindset.
In the Old Testament, through the ark of the Covenant, the tabernacle, and the temple of Solomon, God wanted to show to His people that He, the Supreme God, was willing to be with His people, his creation. However, we have also learned when the Israelites turned away from God because of their sins, whatever that had been built by them, whether in wooden, stone, or gold, plus all other objects made with the symbol of God, became useless. Those buildings were even destroyed by God by means of other nations. Historically, the holy temple built by King Solomon had been destroyed by the King of Babylon and then the Holy Temple of Jesus’ day was destroyed by the Roman soldiers! We must ask: Which one is more important, God Himself, or the temple of God (a building)?
In the New Testament, Jesus called the grand buildings of the temple a “den of thieves”. In Apostle Paul’s letters to the early church, oftentimes, Paul started with “Greet… the church in their house.” (Romans 16: 5, Colossians 4:15, Philemon 2, ESV). It was obvious that the meeting places for the oppressed disciples have also included their homes! The grant temple became a den of thieves, while a house of an ordinary person became the Church of the Lord after its accommodation of the Saints. We must ask: Which one is more important, the venue itself or the people in that venue?
Brothers and sisters: Church is not a building. It is a group of people who were called by the Lord and they were saved and cleansed. Apostle Paul said to the saints “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple (1 Corinthians 3:16-17). Paul also said that saints are “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord… (Ephesians 2:20-22)
Peter also said: “Jesus is the living stone…, as you come to him… you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2: 4-5). We are chosen to be a part of the holy temple, like living stones, and are meant to continue building up ourselves in Christ. The house of the Lord will be gradually formed among us to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 4:13). While a holy temple or a sanctuary can be used and be sacred by God, it would be trampled if God’s blessings are to be taken away from the people inside that building.
As we join the church services virtually from home, let us take opportunities to examine ourselves: Is my attitude towards the worship services showing a lack of interest and my behavior turning mundane? While we are staying at home, can we continue to exemplify the presence of the Lord and live a life with the resurrection in Christ?
Once again, let us continue to be built up and revitalized in the Lord until that time when we can return to our sanctuary to worship God. With our new selves, let God’s glory fill the house of God, the temple of God!