As I was doing my devotions out of the book of 1 Kings (yes, people actually read that book) this morning I came upon the passage where Solomon dedicates the temple he built to the Lord. The Lord replies with a promise of blessing and a warning (as good Lutherans know He is want to do). He promises to establish Solomon's line forever if Solomon walks with integrity before the Lord. But then comes the part that I tripped over. I'll quote it here in its entirety:
But if you or your sons turn away from me and do not observe the commands and decrees I have given you and go off to
serve other gods and worship them, then I will...reject this temple I have consecrated for my Name. Israel will then become a byword and an object of ridicule among all peoples....though this temple is now imposing, all who pass by will be
appalled and will scoff and say, 'Why has the Lord done such a thing to this land and to this temple? People will
answer, 'Because they have forsaken the Lord their God, who brought their fathers out of Egypt, and have embraced other
gods, worshiping and service them--- that is why the Lord brought all this disaster on them. 1 Kings 9:6-9 [bold mine].
Wow. Harsh words, especially in a society where we don't like to think about God's judgment. You might be saying, that's all well and good, but what has this to do with me? God laid on my heart that we, as the North American church are part of that imposing temple. We have build for ourselves a comfortable and grand institution. When you stop to think about it you see just how imposing it has been. Simply look at the church's revenue (not pointing the finger at just one church group) or the sway its held within government or the social conscience it has been. These are all well and good but do they miss the point?
As the church continues in what appears to be a never ending free-fall, becoming ridiculed by all peoples, what is the Lord trying to say to us? Is He bringing ruin upon the imposing institution of the church (note the word institution, we have the sure promise of Jesus that the Spirit will keep and sustain the church, overcoming all in Matthew 16:18)? Is He calling us to turn from the things that distract us and return to Him with integrity and uprightness? YES!
God does not delight in judgment but He uses it as a means of last resort to call His people to repentance (read the entire Old Testament and see what I mean!). May we see how our imposing temple distract from the Goodnews of the Kingdom and return to the Lord with our whole heart, delighting in His mercy, receiving His grace, and being strengthened by the Holy Spirit to persevere in truth and holiness as we proclaim the abundant life that is ours in Christ Jesus!
Pastor J-M shares some occasional thoughts and musings on our life together as followers of Christ. The views are his own.