What is another way to describe the church?
The previous post explained the church is not a building made of mortar, brick, wood, carpet, pews, chairs, etc. but is composed of living stones. So what about these living stones? In 1Corinthians 3:16-17, Paul explains these living stones are the temple or sanctuary of God. Huh? I thought the sanctuary was basically the holy or special place where His people gathered, sat in chairs or pews, worshiped, prayed, listened to a sermon on God’s holy word, and took the offering?
Actually this word temple, in the Greek, is naós (from naiō, “to dwell”) which means a sanctuary (divine dwelling-place); a temple (sacred abode), the place of divine manifestation. So together, we form His dwelling place, His place of divine manifestation. Sometimes people say ‘God showed up’ in the sanctuary or church building made by man. But these times of His tangible presence is actually Him manifesting Himself in and through us, His living stones. He loves it when His people get together as His temple!
Paul goes on to say this temple or sanctuary, composed of believers, has a most amazing attribute. Ready for truth? This temple or sanctuary is HOLY! That means corporately we are holy! No way! Gosh, a lot of times we don’t get along. We have issues with each other. Isn’t only God holy and maybe a few special men or women of God?
I used to think of holy as spotless, pure, undefiled, untouchable, perfect. Years ago someone added to that concept of ‘holy’ when they told me, ‘not even a speck of dust or lint is on God’. Wow! But now I see that kind of understanding of holy puts Him out of reach and something to be feared. This is not to say some of those words might help describe Him but they do not give the right meaning of ‘holy’ in the New Testament.
The Greek word for holy is hagios which means – different, distinguished, distinct, unlike, other (otherness), implies ‘set apart’. Obviously we think of God as unlike, distinct, other, set apart. But for goodness sakes we are that too, as His temple, as His church building?!
The holiness we are graced with as His temple makes us totally unlike any other so called temple, sanctuary, or church made by human hands. On top of that, we are an eternal temple, forever other, forever unlike, forever distinct, forever distinguished. Talk about corporate significance!
Why do we put so much of our identification in a building or a denomination that the building represents? We, His living stones, are so much bigger and better than those lesser things. Again, it is not bad to go to a church building but realize the true sanctuary is so beyond our traditional understanding and expectations.
Try to grasp this – if ‘holy us’ are unlike anything else, if we are other than anything else, if we are distinct from anything else – then there is nothing to compare us with! Even as God cannot be compared with anything else. In fact, only He is so beyond and above peerless! Yet He imparts to us a measure of His holy nature. Incredible!!!
If something is other than anything else, doesn’t that give it a an incomparable value and worth? No one can compare it with anything else because there is nothing like it! Wouldn’t we be amazed to see something like that?! Wouldn’t we be naturally intrigued to explore and discover why this is so?
So who is holy? God of course, and us as His holy temple. Both – incomparable, worth really knowing and exploring. In fact both are meant to be known and explored now and through all eternity! To clarify – wouldn’t we explore His glorious holy temple forever because part of the unsearchable riches of Him is His oneness with us?
- May we truly grasp the dynamic of living stones defining His temple, His sanctuary.
- May God help us to begin to see the holy inherent value of each other together – unlike, other than, distinct, unique, and distinguished.
- Because we are His holy temple where He resides, truly we should expect more of His manifest presence when we gather together!