So often the Church of today gets equated with the physical house of worship. We use phrases like, “I’m going to church” signifying the place. We can put a lot of time and money into maintaining our buildings. Yet, God’s word puts emphasis on the spiritual house of worship — us, His people.
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. (1 Pet. 2:5)
Because of the indwelling Holy Spirit, we are a Spiritual House not needing a Physical House of Worship.
Though always at work, the Holy Spirit didn’t permanently dwell within God’s people during Old Testament times but rather came upon them for specific works at specific times (Ex. 31:3; 35:30-36:1). That changed, however, shortly after the ascension of Jesus. His Spirit now lives within individual believers (1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19) and we are “built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit” (Eph. 2:22). Consequently, it doesn’t matter where even just two or three gather in His name, He is there with them (Matt. 18:20). We can meet any place in the great outdoors or in whatever type of building and experience the power and glory of the Lord because His Spirit is already there, in us.
The woman at the well fixated on the place of worship but Jesus told her, “a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.” He went on to identify true worshipers as those who “worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.” (See John 4:20-24.)
- Let’s put the emphasis where God does — on believers coming together in His name. The Church is the gathering of people indwelt by His Spirit, not the building.
Because we are a Spiritual House dwelling in physical bodies, we need a physical place to meet.
Look at the New Testament church. We read of them meeting in the temple courts (Acts 2:46), homes (Acts 16:5; Rom. 16:3-5; 1 Cor. 16:19; Col. 4:15; Philemon 2), and possibly other places. We read of localized churches in different cities or regions (e.g., the Church at Antioch – Acts 13:1; the 7 Churches in Revelation 2-3; etc.). Commonsense says they had to meet somewhere.
Perhaps the size of the group determined where they met; maybe weather conditions; or perhaps what was available. The Bible doesn’t say why they met where they did. Nor did God command them to meet at a certain place. What He did command was that they, and we, meet so we can encourage and build up one another. — “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Heb. 10:24-25)
- Let’s prioritize our time and resources on what’s important to God — encouraging and ministering to the needs of people, not maintaining buildings that consume so much of what we have that we have little left for ministry.
To live out the two implications mentioned in this post, we need to not only be indwelt by the Holy Spirit but also walking in and filled with the Spirit — the next post.