The people of God are a “called out” and separated assembly of God-indwelt beings. The Church is greatly diminished when we think of it as merely a physical building. Instead, it is people, and especially the gathering of people in the name and presence of Jesus. The presence of God Himself is manifested when as few as two or three gather in His name. This is the result of each one being saturated with the Spirit of God. In other words, our Personal Quiet Time comes to church with us. Each one of us are His temple, with our Lord Jesus Christ as the very Cornerstone and the inspired teachings of the Apostles as the foundation. No wooden nor stone edifice may fill this description.
Our bodies are temples. “…your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you.”( I Corinthians 6:19b) It is interesting to note that the Bible says our bodies, and not just our “hearts” are the dwelling place of the Holy One. This means we are to live careful and holy lives. So, I Corinthians 3:16-17 says, “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” We may walk with God in holy obedience here and now. This manifests the Church to the confused world around us in a winsome and appropriate way.
Our gatherings are temples. Jesus assures us that “where two or three are gathered together in [His] name, there am I in the midst of them.”(Matthew 18:20) Since the first Easter morning, the risen Savior has been meeting with His people…making any simple building or gathering a shining temple sanctified by His presence. We testify to His greatness and our love for Him when we visibly and physically gather to worship.
Broken, yet holy humans are temples. The Apostle Paul notes our human limitations which are touched by the divine when he says, “…we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency may be of God, and not of us.”(II Corinthians 4:7) In spite of our defects, we are blessed by the grace poured into our inner being by God Himself. This causes us to realize, “…[we] are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (II Corinthians 6:16) We may bring our brokenness and shortcomings to Him. He utilizes our meager offerings with the added benefits of His sovereign touch.
Living sacrifices are temples. Consecrated lives, hearts, and bodies are the unique residence of the Spirit of God. May we surrender as “living sacrifices [which are] holy, acceptable unto God.”(Romans 12:1b) Antagonism and rebelling preclude God’s blessing and presence. Letting Him have right-of-way raises us to be dedicated temples to our God. We may go beyond the physical act of reverently bowing before God, to making our entire lives a demonstration of submission and love to Him.
The Apostle Paul assures us that we are building on enduring truths. We are “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto the holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:20-22) Jesus is the cornerstone which orients all else correctly. Simply put, the Church does not exist apart from the Savior. He dwells in it to the point it is declared to be His body. May the world see Him in the Church as the disciples saw Him in Galilee!
The Church is not (and should not) be a monument to humanity, but instead it is a living testimony of the mercy and grace of God. This is greater than cathedrals and statues. Many have used religion to make a name for themselves. This has created many difficulties. He is “to have the preeminence.” Jesus is King of Kings and Lord of Lords in the Church.