Now it’s awesome when the Bible says “We are the temple of the Living God!” (2 Corinthians 6.16 NIV). I’ve been in a few “temple” in my travels around the world. Some of them are pretty special – as architectural marvels go they rank right up there at the top. Beautifully furnished, exquisite craftsmanship, filled with art treasures, designed to create a sense of awe… but usually pretty empty… they create a sense of “aloneness” rather than “community”.
How different apostolic Christianity was… the ancient church had no building – no physical temples – that’s why Paul said “We are the temple”! You could go into ancient Ephesus and ask for the “temple” and they would have given you the address of the opulent pagan “temple of Artemis or Diana,” an incredible, architectural marvel – one of the seven wonders of the ancient world – located on the edge of the city. But if you would have asked the same question to apostle Paul he would tell you that it was located in a host of little house gatherings up and down the streets of Ephesus where ordinary people met as Christians every Lord’s Day (or any other time they got a chance). In fact, his words in Ephesians go something like this…
“Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:19–22 NIV)
Now, that why when I read 2 Corinthians 6.16 this morning during my time of “coffee with the Lord,” I jotted these words in the margin of my Bible: “The second sentence in this verse makes the first sentence special!” The second sentence goes like this: “As God has said, ‘I will live with them and will walk among them! I will be their God and they will be My people!” (quotation from Leviticus 26.11-12) In other words, if you’re going to have a temple you need God there! God being there is what makes it a true temple! Otherwise it’s just an expensive building.
Gotta say, as a Christian I’m not very impressed with buildings… they’re ok, but they’re NEVER a temple from an apostolic perspective! Put everything the Bible says about temples together… doesn’t matter, it was really GOD’S PRESENCE AMONG HIS PEOPLE that made anything a temple. Don’t know about you, but that’s what I want! That’s what I’m seeking for! That’s what I desire! That’s what makes the difference!