Thursday, January 31, 2013
The Arrogance of Humankind
Acts 7:48 “However, the Most High does not live in houses made by human hands. As the prophet says:
49 “‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me? says the Lord. Or where will my resting place be? 50 Has not my hand made all these things?’
Stephen continues his defense before the Sanhedrin. He is simply reminding them of their history and what has brought them to this day but the words and scriptures he uses cuts them to the quick. It is a constant awareness of their arrogance for they are proud of the religion that they have built. Unfortunately it has not been built together with God. Too much concern has been placed in having power, political power, and making the secular authorities happy with what they have been doing. Compromise has been the common response. Stephen reminds them that there is no way to contain God, or even to direct God. Then, he attacks their arrogance by reminding them that God doesn't need them. Why would God need their structures, systems and buildings for his kingdom when he owns the whole world! He can use anything he wants to be his tabernacle -- for his hands have made it all.
I'm wondering if most of us spent some of our childhood building a treehouse or a clubhouse? I know I always thought something like that would be a lot of fun. I tried making a tree house one summer that we were in Nebraska at my grandparents' home. I think I ended up with a little set of steps going up a tree and a triangle of boards that you could sit on and that's about it -- but I thought it was pretty cool.
While we were living in Russia our girls had the opportunity to work alongside many construction teams that came over to help us with building churches and our youth center. One summer as a team was busy building on the youth center our girls were behind the building wanting to make a play house. Roy, the construction coordinator told them that they could have any pieces of wood to use that were at 18" long or less. He held up his hands to show them how short the wood was supposed to be. Of course, they were supposed to be using the scrap wood. Little did he know that they would go to the good wood pile and take it over to the man running the table saw and ask him to cut it into 18" pieces. He didn't know what Roy had told them so he happily cut up the wood for them. This was all discovered when they girls drug us all to the back yard to see the house they were building. It was an interesting little house and they were working hard on it. The only thing they didn't realize was that a house needs a solid foundation and they had taken the boards and nailed them straight into the dirt. The little house lasted a short period of time until the entire structure began to lean.
Now, at the time that the girls built their little play house, we had an apartment in the city. Would it have made any sense for us to have moved, the whole family, into the play house? It was cute what the girls had done but it certainly was not a home where we could all live -- we already had a home -- a safe home, a good home. The girls knew we couldn't live in that house and they realized it was for fun -- but now, let's step back a minute. The religious leaders of the day had built their own little unstable houses and then expected God to come and live in them! Somehow they seemed to think that they had done something fabulous for God. Oh the arrogance of it all!
We should never create limits or boundaries to the way in which God can work in and through our lives. We must be willing to open ourselves up to his creative power and relax in his ability to do his work in and through us. Trusting in him removes all fear, for we rest on him and recognize that the work he wants to accomplish is his -- and not ours. This is on a personal level, but on the corporate or church level there is also a truth at work. Why do we think that God must work through our feeble structures? We are limiting ourselves and God when we try to put him in a box. Instead, imagine what would happen if we let go of our preconceived notions of how God needs to work and where God needs to work and again -- relax and trust him to do what he needs to do. The church of the future won't look like the church of the past -- but why should it? Our amazing and creative God knows how to use all the resources of this earth that he created to minister to the ever-changing citizenship of the world. That's his kingdom and if the church puts up structures that get in his way, he will simply go around them.
Lord, please help me not to be so arrogant as to think that you need to work in any particular type of way. May your will be done. Amen.