Lots of Little Temples - What Does it Mean?
I've been talking about the reality of Christ in us, the hope of glory. What does it mean that God moved out of a temple building and into human beings, and what should our actions be as a result?
Let us build upon the foundation we all know. First, man is created in God's image & likeness. Second, each person is a unique, free-willed being. Third, there is no one exactly like you in the whole world, nor has there ever been, nor will there ever be. We know this because we stand 1 to 1 before the Lord to give account of our lives. There is no body double we can pass blame to - we are unique, individual, free willed, accountable.
The Father Has a Situation Only You Can Handle
The Father is a Spirit but He created a physical universe. How is He to move around His physical universe since He is a (Holy) Spirit? (John 4:24)
Solution: Create spirit beings He can be one with in spirit/Spirit, but house their spirit and soul in a physical body. In that way, the God who is a Spirit, can move around and manifest Himself in His physical world (one day we'll have bodies made of heavenly material and be able to move effortlessly between the Spirit and physical worlds).
Because you are uniquely created by God from His imagination, that means only you can manifest that part of His personality He used to create you. He wants to manifest (reveal) Himself in this world through that part of His personallity He used to create you!
This means that every fellow Christian has a part of God's personality that can only be seen in and through them. One might say 'I know the grace of God,' but when we hear testimonies from several people of how they got saved, we see multiple facets of grace like peering into the heart of a multi-faceted gem.
You can say you've seen diamonds before, but seeing the light refracted through each of the gem's multiple facets allows you to see that light slightly differently each time, and gives insight into the make up of that gem. So too with each of us and our Father.
So knowing this of each other, that we are each a wonder of God's creation manifesting a part of Him only we have been graced with - without any claim to fame ourselves since we had nothing to do with our own creation - what would be the highest and best way for all these little temples to see God in each other?
Temple, or Temples?
How best to facilitate the depth of relationship needed for each of us to see Christ in each other?
Would that be going to a temple building to all sit face forward, silently, while the same person week in and week out speaks to us from their unique manifestation of God's personality in them - but no one else is allowed to share what Christ in them might observe or say about the topic at hand?
Would a more efficient way be for a smaller group of temples to gather in homes in a way that each person present could share what Christ in them might observe about the topic at hand? Yes.
That is why Paul observed in I Corinthians 14:26: "How is it brethren when you come together,(brethren is a term including men & women) each of you may have a Psalm (worship/prayer), a doctrine (something God taught you), revelation (something God made known to you), tongues & interpretation (gifts of the Spirit), let all things be done for the edification of everyone else."
And that is a core reason for meeting in homes as a group of committed-to-each-other temples, building the sense of community and family, becoming intentional in Christ in relationship with each other.
But You've Got to Walk in Love...
All that sounds so neat and orderly and logical doesn't it? But home and relationship based faith is messy folks. It ain't pretty. At times it is boring, mundane, and doesn't look all that spiritual. There is nothing present to tickle the senses - no flashy choir, no 2 million dollar Italian marble floor in the foyer nor expensive sounds system complete with multiple video screens overhead.
You are sitting in someone's living room, a guest in their home, taking the risk of getting to know people and them getting to know you. Galatians 2:9 says that when Peter, James and John perceived the grace of God in Paul and Barnabus, they extended the hand of fellowship.
It is that perceiving the grace of God in each other by which we fellowship. Peter, James and John were called to the Messianic believers, while Paul and Barnabus were called to the Greeks, Romans, and other non-Jewish peoples. They had little in common other than Jesus.
But it was that commonality in Jesus that allowed each of them to say in essence; "I don't understand your life, but I perceive God's grace in you, and I can love that grace and thereby love you in that grace." That's the only way house and relationship based 'church' work.
When you throw together in one living room people from different socio-economic backgrounds, different ethnicity, ages, gender, and life stories - you have to love the grace of God and work past what is not in common or not attractive between you. And that means you grow together to be more Christ-like.
But There is Another Side...
House church is the most fulfilling way of 'doing church' I've ever experienced. Not only is it how those who wrote and first read the letters we call Matthew through the Revelation did church, but the pages of the New Testament are literally an instruction manual revealing anything we go through in house church now, was also dealt with in house church when Paul, Peter, James, John and Jude were doing it and writing about it.
It is a lifestyle though, not something you do. When you realize Christ lives in you, and you become eager to hear what He is doing in other temples, relationships build and strengthen, causing each to become more Christ-like.
So many have been raised in a church culture that suppresses the gifts of all but the people with the microphone, it seems like anarchy at first to talk of a setting where any can share through Christ in them. But it isn't, there is a divine order, and is such that you have to walk it out because you won't be able to wrap your brain around it until you do.
Accountability in the Institutional church is measured by attendance, giving, and volunteering. Accountability in house church is through the strength of relationships, and that is a new and scary world to some. But learning to trust Christ in other people is an amazing journey of growth! New subject next week,