Tuesday, July 12, 2011
NOTHING WE BUILD CAN HOUSE THE PRESENCE OF GOD.
BE CAREFUL, THEN, HOW YOU BUILD
“However, the Most High does not
live in houses made by men.”
“Let us, then, go to Him outside the camp,
bearing the disgrace He bore. For here
we do not have an enduring city, but we
are looking for the City that is to come.”
When God calls us out and away from the “camp”, in other words, the traditions of men, the cities built by men, the works and monuments to man’s energies and efforts to do things for God, we must go to Him.
When God reminds us, through Stephen, that God doesn’t dwell in any man-made thing, then we must either follow Christ, dying like Stephen did, or follow men, who are represented by the religious establishment, and who actually stoned Stephen and murdered him there in
There is nothing we touch that we don’t try to alter. Instead of laying all on the altar, we alter all God gives us. In this play on words, we see the truth God has spent all history trying to give us. We can’t do anything, or build anything, that will hold the presence of God. Everything we create, including any efforts to build systems, procedures, programs, curriculums, creeds, dogmas, or houses to house the
will automatically head in the wrong direction. Kingdom of God
In the 1960’s a brilliant thinker, Marshall Macluhan, made a statement after examining the nature of communications; especially modern media. He said, “The medium is the message.” And, though a worldly man, and without Christ, Mr. Macluhan had it right. He basically meant that whatever we use to communicate a message changes that message in some way. Whatever we use to contain and relate something we’ve heard or seen is automatically tainted by the means we use.
Witness television news. Just being picked to be on the news is a form of editing: each day over 400 potential prime time stories are reviewed, but only 20 or so can be featured on the television news program you watch. Just picking the stories is a form of changing what is really going on in the world, and the medium, television, has changed the message in huge ways. That’s why every medium we use, including print, audio, video, or other forms of electronic communications, actually alters what we are trying to say.
Superimpose this truth upon our modern churches. By building our own huge buildings, and deciding that we must appear modern, in-tune with society, and have a relevant message, we have changed the gospel. Automatically. By choosing to concentrate on putting the gospel out to the masses, instead of keeping it a close-up, person-to-person message, we have automatically changed the nature of the gospel we preach. By choosing to print our ideas and thoughts on the gospel, we change how people perceive it.
Does this mean we don’t print the gospel truth, or that we don’t blog, make books, create websites, or twitter the truth? No, but it means that we must keep it simple. It means we must be absolutely careful not to alter what God has said in His Word. It means we must choose the medium carefully, and use it wisely. It means not many of us should become teachers, brethren, as James says, because we will be judged by a higher standard. It means we must use media, use technology, and make sure it doesn’t use us. Like handling fire, we must be aware it can burn as easily as it can warm us on a cold night.
Like Stephen, we must declare the truth simply, and straightforwardly. He was killed by the men who operated within the system, within the gates of the city; the city made by human hands. He was killed, as was His Lord Jesus, by the men who maintained the temple built by human hands, which sat inside that city, and was revered by all as the place the presence of God dwelt.
But we are called, like Stephen, to go outside the camp. Actually, the “men of God” who murdered him took him outside the camp to kill him. There were places for stoning, and these were outside the gates of the city. There were places for crucifixion, and these were outside the city.
Today, God is calling us to abandon the works of our hands. To sell what we have built, and to sell what we possess to make us comfortable. God is calling us to stop “managing the gospel” and start trusting the Spirit of God, along with Christ, the Lord of the church, to build His temple, the house not made with hands, His Body on the earth, without our meager and pitiful attempts to help. What we don’t need are men who gather together and begin new and exciting ways and means to create for God, and who seek to organize, program and structure their own ways of doing church.
When will we let go of these idolatrous things? It is a struggle, and one Peter went through with great visibility. He was the apostle who suggested to Jesus, after three of them had gone to the mountain with Jesus and saw Him transfigured, that they build monuments there to commemorate the event. God’s displeasure was evident in His thundering answer. Peter was a Jew, used to thinking about God as a dweller in houses made by human hands.
Later in his life, Peter, by listening and growing in Christ, had become a man who would accept Gentiles into the church, and who died defending the God who doesn’t dwell in houses made by human hands.
These are hard things for us to learn. But in Christ, who demands our all, we must lay all on the altar, willing to give up our ideas and plans, and in fact, avoid them. It is Christ’s “ekklesia” (the people of God who are called to gather together) and He will not tolerate our meddling, trying to build monuments to our own perception of reality.
The medium is the message. Meaning, we, the carriers of this “Christ-virus”, must just be Christ to those around us. That is the purest Way. Christ in you is the only hope of glory.
Our big churches and full calendars only taint the gospel, fashioning it in our own image.
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