Saturday, November 26, 2011
Where Are You, God?
In the course of living a life of faith, I often find myself looking for God. He's everywhere, He tells us, but life, in all of its bland ordinariness, doesn't seem a fit place for Him to occupy. Intellectually, I know He's around when I'm doing dishes or driving to work but, in the absence of a burning bush or pillar of fire, I am hard put to recognize His Glory.
In ancient times, God had men build him first a tabernacle, then a temple in which He specified a place for Himself, the Holy of Holies. They watched Him descend into it and take up residence there.
My dwelling place will be with them. I will be their God and they will be my people. Then the nations will know that I the Lord make Israel holy when my sanctuary is among them forever.--Ezekiel 37:28
Now, the New Testament tells me that my body is God's temple,
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, who you have received from God?--1Corinthians 6:19
but I have a hard time reconciling the precious beauty and careful obedient provision of the first temple with my own vain and unreliable striving. I know without a doubt that I am not a fit temple for God.
But I am looking at this the wrong way. In both cases, it is not the place but the Person to which He draws attention. God is not talking about two things here, but one. The sanctuary of the temple and the temple of the body are the same thing.
And there is more...God once lived in buildings made of hides, then of bricks made by men and now He lives in men themselves but, just as the first building was not made of only one man's home, neither is His dwelling now made in only one man's individual body. As the first temple encompassed the worship of many men, so does it still. Today, God doesn't only dwell in me, He dwells in us. The body He occupies today is the church, not our local go-to-Sunday building, but the church He instituted when He made Peter His rock. The church that includes all men and all countries for all time who believe.
Once, His visible power descended into a communal sanctuary. It still does. The Holy of Holies doesn't exist today only in my heart. Through the church, God makes a public declaration of power. The nations must visibly recognize Him. Every temple God designates exists for only one purpose: to demonstrate His Glory.
We cannot hoard God. He will make Himself known and has designated the places from which He will do it. Both within our hearts and in communal worship, God declares Himself.
Of course life is ordinary. Compared to God, everything is.