A New Building of Worship
Eph. 2:19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God,
Eph. 2:20 built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone.
Eph. 2:21 In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord;
Eph. 2:22 in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.
The new temple is an interesting place, the beauty found in the diversity of the stones themselves, for they are living stones, made up of those who are “members of the household of God.” Within this household are found people of all races, but they have now been united as citizens of the kingdom.
This new temple is to be more beautiful than anything made by human hands. Jesus is the cornerstone and the foundation around him is made up of the “apostles and prophets.” These are those who have gone before and paid the price spiritually so that there could be a beautiful new temple, made up of the people of God.
The Holy Spirit works to unite us all, binding us spiritually so that God may dwell in us, and this is the new building of worship.
Last month we traveled through Germany and England touring sites related to church history. The medieval cathedrals are breathtaking with their size and beauty. Over and over again we were told of the intricate work that went into the stained glass and the hundreds of stone masons who would have been needed to create such a structure. Often it took decades to complete the buildings, with those who began the structure never seeing it brought to completion. Literally generations of families worked on a particular building, working their entire lives on a certain portion but never seeing it finished, and yet they labored on and created masterpieces.
While these masterpieces exist even to this day, they are nothing compared to the beauty of the new building of worship that God intended to create through his people. More beautiful than any stained glass window is the gathering of God’s people who have been united into his family through the power of the Holy Spirit.
God’s intention is that people of every race, gender and economic class would unite together as citizens of his kingdom and form the new building of worship. The beauty of that building is found within the diversity. No, not everything is the same because the very unique stones bring with them their culture, their influence and their own style. This may sound a bit confusing and yes, it can be, but it is in that confusion that the beauty of God begins to radiate.
Why is Sunday morning the most segregated time in America? Why have we chosen to have churches of particular ethnic groups? Just think how bland those buildings of worship are as they are all painted with one particular color and style. Instead, what would happen if the colors and styles became mixed and what resulted was something new and different. Initially it may make people uncomfortable but the longer they are allowed to be living stones within the new building, the more they come alive and the very presence of God fills the place to overflowing for their purpose is to be a dwelling place for God. Too often we worry about where we will feel comfortable for worship, when we forget that it’s about where God will feel comfortable! God is comfortable in the temple built with the beauty of his diversity.
The builders of medieval cathedrals had to be intentional and plugged away at their efforts for years until they eventually were completed. Maybe we ought not to be looking for a quick fix, but instead should be working toward the long run, the long-term goal of the new building of worship. It is one which will take planning, intentionality and patience but as God’s presence fills the place there will be spiritual growth and maturity beyond what we could even begin to imagine.
Lord, thank you for the beauty of your people. Amen.