The other night at Vacation Bible School, I committed what some people consider the unforgivable sin. I ran in the church building.
After the kindergarteners finished music time, our director let the boys race the girls one lap around the worship center. I decided to run with the boys to encourage them. As I ran, I flashed back to the thousands of voices I have heard in my lifetime. Those voices shouted the admonition, “don’t run in God’s house.”
I’ve always had a problem with calling the church building “God’s house.” The main reason is that it is NOT. At first in the Old Testament, God instructed His people to build a temporary structure called the Tabernacle. The Tabernacle had two purposes. First, it was the place where priests offered sacrifices to God. Second, it housed the Ark of the Covenant, which symbolized the presence of God. The Ark was only a symbol because God cannot be confined in a place.
In the time of King Solomon, God’s people built a permanent structure, the Temple, that served the same purpose. Again, God was not confined to that structure; it merely symbolized His presence. When the New Testament Church began to flourish, they did not have buildings. They met in homes and rented spaces. In their thinking, God’s didn’t have a house.
Before you label me a heretic and give up reading further, I understand the motive most have for their prohibition.
God is holy and we want to respect and treat as holy the things that we associate with God. I get it; really, I do. That line of thinking, however, can lead us to some misplaced faith and legalistic attitudes.
Church is a location.
When we call the building where we meet God’s house, we reduce the church to an address. Church is not a place; church is a people. We often use the phrase “going to church,” but that phrase misrepresents the church. Christians don’t go to church; we are the church. Wherever we go, there goes the church. My church can be in school, Walmart, on a job site, or any number of other locations simultaneously. Our church is not where we meet, it is who we are.
The building where we meet is where God is.
1 Corinthians 3:16 reminds us that our bodies are the Temple of the Holy Spirit. God does not reside in the building where we meet but in the lives that we live. We might more accurately say that WE ARE GOD’S HOUSE. Knowing God resides in us should change the way we act and change our priorities.
The building is a special place.
Please understand what I mean. Church buildings are wonderful. I love our meeting place, but buildings are a means to an end not the end in and of themselves. God blesses us with places to meet, but those places are tools to help us on our mission to make disciples. The church is not a museum but a
The First Century church thrived without dedicated campuses in the cities where Paul and the other missionaries planted churches. They didn’t have to worry about their kids (or their pastor) running in the church; they didn’t have church building. Moreover, one day, bricks and mortar will crumble. An edifice is a corruptible structure, but the Church is the eternal, living, organic Body of Christ.
We should be quiet and respectful in church.
Some people will get the shock of their eternal life right at the beginning of eternity. They will show up inside the pearly gates and find heaven is a noisy place. Revelation 5:11 describes a scene in heaven anything but quiet and somber.
Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands…
I am not sure exactly how many angels constitute a myriad, but it’s a bunch. Multiple myriads will join thousands of thousands of angels, living creatures and believers praising Jesus. Even if each one whispered, the noise will be at decibels we’ve never experienced.
I want people to know that church is a place of abundant joy and freedom not severity and legalism.
Run, Church, Run
So my encouragement to you today is this: RUN, CHURCH, RUN. You ARE the church. Run everywhere you go with the good news of Jesus’ Gospel on your lips. Run everywhere you go with the light of Jesus shining through your good deeds.
Don’t GO to church; BE the Church.