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Whose church is it?

Most likely you remember the cute little children’s poem you said with your hands. Clasping your hands together, with your pointer fingers in the shape of steeple, you share:

Here is the church

And here is the steeple

Open the doors

And see all the people

This is a great reminder the church is much more about the people than the building. We often forget this, placing too much emphasis on the building. We aren’t alone in this. In a way, David wrestled with this when he was king. He wanted to build a house for God.

When the king was settled in his palace, and the Lord had given him rest from all his surrounding enemies, 2 the king said to the prophet Nathan, “Look! I’m living in a cedar palace, but God’s chest is housed in a tent!”  

3 Nathan said to the king, “Go ahead and do whatever you are thinking, because the Lord is with you.” (2 Samuel 7, CEB)

At first, it sounded like David was good to go, but notice how David came up with the plan first, before asking God.

Then God interjects into David’s plan.

4 But that very night the Lord’s word came to Nathan: 5 Go to my servant David and tell him: This is what the Lord says: You are not the one to build the temple for me to live in. 6 In fact, I haven’t lived in a temple from the day I brought Israel out of Egypt until now. Instead, I have been traveling around in a tent and in a dwelling. 7 Throughout my traveling around with the Israelites, did I ever ask any of Israel’s tribal leaders I appointed to shepherd my people: Why haven’t you built me a cedar temple? (2 Samuel 7, CEB)

God asks David, why are you doing something I never asked you to do? God would ask David’s son, Solomon, to build a temple. The temple is a very important part of the Israelites’ history. However, the temple is not God.

God’s presence, or work, is not limited to a building. Going back to the poem, it’s not about the building nor is it about the people.

We can place too much emphasis on the people, making church about what we like or don’t like. We think the church, and even God, is here to meet  our needs.  

David didn’t have permission to build the temple, and we, as Christians, don’t have permission to build the church the way we think it should be either.

The church isn’t ours to build. Consider this conversation Jesus has with His disciples,

13 Now when Jesus came to the area of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Human One is?”

14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.”

15 He said, “And what about you? Who do you say that I am?”

16 Simon Peter said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

17 Then Jesus replied, “Happy are you, Simon son of Jonah, because no human has shown this to you. Rather my Father who is in heaven has shown you. 18 I tell you that you are Peter. And I’ll build my church on this rock. The gates of the underworld won’t be able to stand against it. 19 I’ll give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Anything you fasten on earth will be fastened in heaven. Anything you loosen on earth will be loosened in heaven.” 20 Then he ordered the disciples not to tell anybody that he was the Christ. (Matthew 16, CEB)

Jesus built the church, and He paid the price for it with His life. The church is His, and He invites us, as Christians, to be a part of it.   


Pastor Matt

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