I just can’t get over my fascination with God’s love of, and plan for, His church. It doesn’t seem to matter how long I pastor, or how much I learn and see, I just can’t get over the fact that God has chosen all of us as His dwelling place. He could live anyplace He wants you know. He isn’t limited by finances, or a job, or age, or the weather. He could have chose some kind of natural mansion to call home. But instead, He sent everything He had in the form of His own Son, to purchase His dream house–and it’s us!
In the second chapter of Peter’s first letter, he talks about this. By the inspiration of the Holy Spirit he writes:
(1 Peter 2:4-10 NIV) As you come to him, the living Stone–rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him– you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For in Scripture it says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, “The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone,” and, “A stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.” They stumble because they disobey the message–which is also what they were destined for. But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
The Old Testament gives us several illustrations of a tent or temple being constructed as a home for God. Each of these stories are a foreshadowing of God’s ultimate plan which was always to gather a people together and live in and with them. In every case, ordinary materials are first gathered, separated from common use and consecrated to God’s use. Then, these materials were carefully assembled together according to the specific design of the builder. Each piece had a very unique and special role, but found its highest value, and greatest purpose, by its relationship to the structure as a whole.
You and I are just like that. We were all ordinary people. But when we came to Jesus and accepted His Lordship in our lives, He began reshaping us from the inside out. He already knew us, and knew what He had designed us to be, and where He designed us to fit. He built us together, joined us to others, and gave us a special role in His kingdom and in our generation. The single purpose of all of this is for there to be a place, a gathered people, in which the presence of the living God can be encountered on this earth. The church, not just an individual Christian here or there, but His gathered people, attached to one another spiritually, is that place and that people.
There is some level of mystery, at least to me, about the way that He attaches us to one another. We have very real relationships with our brothers and sisters in Christ. But there is something deeper–a dynamic flow of the life of God that brings His presence on the scenes of our individual lives. The flow of His Spirit is released in greater measure through those who allow themselves to be attached to one another, planted in the house of God, established in His plans and purposes. We don’t have to be in the same room, but the fact that we have yielded ourselves to this “building together” around the cornerstone puts us in position to participate in His ongoing work on earth.
It is an extraordinary thing to be a part of all of this. It is humbling to me to be a part of God’s home, and to be attached to all of you extraordinary people. I encourage you today to find your place in the Body of Christ. Get over the fact that Christians aren’t perfect, that preachers are often a mess, that involvement with the church can be difficult. Allow God to set you in place in a local congregation. Let Him develop the gifts that He has placed in you. Be there, be of service, and be a part of the extraordinary things that God can do.