"Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you? 17If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him; for God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple." 1 Corinthians 3:16-17
Many years ago, I remember having a little bit of a debate about the importance of a church body having their own church building to worship in. Some people felt that it was necessary, that it showed a body's commitment to a community. And some people felt it completely unnecessary- as the church was really the people within, and not the building. Who was right? Both were in their own ways, of course. Lately I've been thinking about this again. My thoughts have been dwelling on the importance of belonging to a church- a body of believers, and I thought about how there are so, so many different churches out there where one could belong to.
On the one hand, that's a great thing. So many different groups of people worshiping God and gathering together once a week for the purpose of doing so in one accord! At the same time... well, these days most churches have websites that you can go and visit, and see what they are all about. I find this particularly nice because you can see in black and white the truths they hold to be true. What always distracts me though are the extra things a church has going on- and I confess that these are what has me distracted as of late.
So many churches are doing so much to try and "reach the lost" so to speak. And I say it that way because I wonder if that is what they are really doing. Many churches call them outreach opportunities or areas of ministry, and I know God blesses these efforts, because he knows the hearts of his people, but it just seems to me that when a church is so focused on reaching outward to the lost that they forget why they are a body in the first place. It just struck me the other day that the entire purpose of a church- of a body of believers should be to build each other up. We should be ministering to the body of Christ when we are within our congregations- praying for each other, exhorting each other and giving messages to embolden each other to actually be the temples we are called to be. This idea of reaching the lost? The church body as a whole should not be responsible for it- we as individuals should be responsible for it.
When I go into church on say, a Sunday morning, I should be hearing messages from the pulpit that encourage me as an individual to reach out to those around me as I go about my week. Every single one of us has an amazing scope of people to draw from. When I think about all the different people that Andy and I come in contact with throughout the week- both individually and separately, we could found a church body alone if all the people we came in contact with accepted Christ as their Savior. The purpose of my church and my fellow church mates is to take care of each other so that every single one of us can reach out to the lost each and every day. The purpose of the church is not to come up with plans and programs to try and get more people in the door.
When we reach out to the lost individually, we're more successful in achieving our goal. And why is that? Because individually, in the every day activities, the lost get the opportunity to see the real Jesus in me coming out. They get the opportunity to see the difference that having God in my life makes- they maybe can't see that in a Sunday morning church service. When I am happy to see someone at church Sunday morning, that person may wonder if I'm truly happy to see them or not. When I am happy to see someone in my backyard on a Thursday afternoon- that comes across as genuine and loving.
We ARE the temple! God's Spirit lives and breathes in us, and I can't help but think that if we put our focus and energy into showing Jesus in our everyday that we would be much more effective at reaching the lost in our communities- instead of trying to devise a program to entice people in our doors. What are we? A mega-mart or the Body of Christ? God loves all the lost around us so much- and if we are willing... If we are willing to step out in faith and let our actions speak volumes, that Spirit inside of us will stir things up and make us shine for Him! The Spirit inside of us will naturally draw those people closer- it will be enticing to them because we all are born with the desire for God. We don't need to come up with a gimmick or activity to entice. The Holy Spirit is enticing all on His own.
We are God's sacred temples! Think about that! Think about how the attendance at our churches would swell with more and more believers if we really put these sacred temples to work. That's what the world around us wants. They want to see the realness of Jesus in people's lives- they don't want a gimmick or a picnic with free food. They want Jesus. That's all they want- and that's all they need.