A taste of FAITH, a touch of LAUGHTER.
I appreciated the article I am sharing here so much that I was close to tears several times reading through it. The author has expressed so well my unsaid and unwritten feelings about people leaving the church and remaining outside of the church fellowship. I know church is difficult for some for varied reasons and finding a church home can be tough.
After serving as pastor to a church for 5 years, then dealing with sickness and relocation, it took me a full year or so to find a new church home in a new town. No church is perfect, but I believe we need the face to face fellowship. I believe we very much need the gathering of believers, and the “rubber meets the road” interaction with other imperfect brothers and sisters in the family of God. We need each other in the body of Christ.
Reblogged and reproduced from here:
posted by Corey Buckner
on January 02, 2016
“I confess that at various times in my life I have been a person who openly stated, “I love God; it’s His people I have a problem with”. In feeling that way, like many of my brothers and sister in Christ I made the decision to disassociate myself from the organized Christian church and become an island unto myself as it related to my relationship with God. I won’t discuss what it was that ran me out of the church, I will save that for another post; but I will say EMPHATICALLY that anyone feeling that way right now I do not judge or look down upon in any way. I fully understand your position, and I would wager that I have some of the exact same issues with the modern church that you do. What I do want to discuss is why, while feeling the way I do about many current church practices, I feel that it is outside of God’s will for me to walk away from the organized church. These are my reasons, and they are directly linked to God’s will for my life; and therefore I am perfectly fine with someone else looking at these same conditions and drawing a different conclusion for God’s will for their life.
Matthew 21:12 (NIV)
Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’” –
Mark 14:58 (NIV)
“We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with human hands and in three days will build another, not made with hands.’”—
Notice in Matthew 21:12 that Jesus did not close down the physical temple. He destroyed what was wrong with it, and repurposed the temple according to its original design. Contrary to my previous belief that Jesus wanted to abolish the physical temple, He does quite the opposite. In calling the temple HIS house and establishing what it will be GOING FORWARD, Jesus affirms His desire for its continued operation. This flies in direct contradiction to my prior understanding that Jesus came to destroy the physical church and put that same thing on the inside of us as believers. In fact, what Jesus puts inside of us, thereby turning our physical bodies as temples, is something distinctly different and complimentary to the physical church building.
In Mark 14:58 Jesus demonstrates that He, like many of us, was full aware that His body, not a building was the TRUE temple the Holy Spirit. In His time on earth, Jesus never outright calls for an end to the physical structure of the temple, while at the same time he refers to His own body as the temple as recorded in Mark 14:58. I find it interesting that, knowing that His own body was a temple, Jesus was still found in physical temples and in Matthew 21:12 still took up the act of both defending the physical temple and defining what it should be. In essence, Matthew 21:12 serves as evidence to me that Jesus was not a physical temple abolitionist. The fact that after destroying what He did not like in the temple, He verbally restores the purpose of that physical structure leads me to believe that there is in fact a New Testament purpose for the physical temple, or what we call now the church building. Furthermore, those of us who are enraged by the thieves and money changers currently occupying our churches may in fact be called to overturn their occupation of Jesus’ house and reestablish the church to its real purpose. This cannot be done by guys like me if I choose to walk away from organized church.
I Corinthians 6:19 (NIV)
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. —
In Matthew 21:12 Jesus refers to the temple as HIS house. Because I believe in the triune God, that being the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as one, I am able to draw a distinction between the language in Matthew 21 and in I Corinthians 6:19. At earlier times in my life I treated the physical temple and my physical body as the same structure; but now I believe that is an inaccurate understanding of scripture. I now believe that the physical church and our bodies as the church are two distinct structures serving two distinct purposes in the kingdom of God. In essence, I no longer believe that the temple that Jesus referred to as His house and the temple of the Holy Spirit are one and the same providing the same purpose in the Kingdom of God.
“If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”—
In I Corinthians 6:19 our bodies are defined as the Temple of the Holy Spirit. That Spirit was prophesied about and defined for us in John 14:15 by Jesus Christ. He speaks of a spirit that the world cannot accept or see, that serves as an advocate to help us and be with us forever. He also speaks of the interconnectedness of believers and the triune God, and how together we are linked to all aspects of God. This Spirit, the Holy Spirit, or the Spirit of Truth had not yet been sent to us when Jesus entered the temple and referred to it as His house.
Historically, the church as a physical structure served a much different cultural purpose than what is said of the Holy Spirit. As part of its purpose is to be a visible devotion to an invisible God that surrounding cultures who may not believe or understand God can view. Following God in the Old Testament contained many practices (feasts, sacrifices, etc.) that served as OUTWARD shows of man’s relationship and devotion to God. The Holy Spirit on the other hand is a personal comforter sent to those who already believe in God and it cannot be seen by those who do not believe. The church as a physical structure has always been a place that draws the community together at synchronized times and events while the Holy Spirit serves to be with us when the physical Church is not.
This is why I believe that I was wrong in trying to equate the Ephesus (the people as the church) to the temple (the physical church structure), and say that because temple is now in me I have no need for a physical church home. This revelation does not exempt me from addressing the issues that I observe in the modern church. In fact, if I am following the example set by Jesus in Mark 12; it should embolden me to address those issues head on. Walking away from the church for me then is akin to a lion seeing problems within his kingdom, and instead of using his authority to correct that which is wrong, walking away and leaving the kingdom to ruin. Why would a king ever resign his kingdom to the very people who are the cause for destroying its image and effectiveness? A real king or even a real warrior within that kingdom would fight with all that is within them to drive evil out of the kingdom. That is where I find myself today.
Because my understanding of the temple as a physical structure and the temple of the Holy Spirit has changed, I have a better understanding that our bodies did not become the Old Testament temple. Our bodies became temples for a Spirit that was not previously made available to us in the earth. When Jesus said, “I will destroy this temple and raise it again in three days,” we have to understand that HIS spirit was already with HIM… that’s why it’s HIS Spirit. Therefore, HIS body was a temple; it was the temple of HIS spirit, the Holy Spirit that He would later send to us. Jesus never destroyed or abolished any physical structures. In fact, His “attacks” were limited to religious people who behaved ungodly in His Father’s name and in His temple.
With that, I have a better understanding of what God desires for me as it relates to my relationship with Him, the church building, the Holy Spirit, religious people, and other believers. Leaving the church for me is akin to walking away from a legitimate kingdom because there are things I do not like. Most of us wouldn’t walk away from the concept of working just because we are unable to find a job or entrepreneurial venture that is completely void of elements we do not like. Instead, we spend time searching for employment or business opportunities that are the best fit and learn to deal with what we don’t like while seeking opportunities to improve or fix those areas when we can.
I believe that that is where my relationship with the physical church structure needs to be. Because unbelievers are blind to the Holy Spirit, physical churches need to exist. If not for the believer, the church definitely needs to exist for the unbeliever to have a place to go and find, meet, and learn more about Jesus. If the physical church needs to exist, who better is there to reestablish and defend Jesus’ house as a house of prayer, as a beacon of light for the lost, and as a meeting place for man and Jesus than those of us who believe that we can see the organizational problems that currently exist within it? That’s not so much of a question as it is a challenge to my brothers and sisters in Christ. Remember, Lions Don’t Abandon Their kingdoms; they defend them and root out all evil from within.
I would LOVE to hear YOUR thoughts on what I have written here.”
How about your thoughts?
I’d like to hear them too….. 🙂