Holy Ground – The Church

In Monday’s article, we looked at the event in Joshua’s life when he was asked to remove his sandals from his feet because he stood on holy ground. Here are three observations we made Monday:

  1. God is holy.
  2. Wherever God’s presence dwells is to be regarded as holy.
  3. Changes must be made to recognize and honor the holiness of God.

Today we are going to take those concepts and apply it to how we view our relationship to the church.

In 1 Corinthians, the apostle Paul used the “temple” analogy and applied it both to individuals (1 Corinthians 6:18-20), and to the congregation here in chapter 3. As a Christian, you are holy and set apart because you are God’s dwelling place, and as a congregation the same is true.

For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building. According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
(1 Corinthians 3:9-11)

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.
(1 Corinthians 3:16-17)

In this section of Scripture we learn that the congregation is God’s building/temple, Jesus is the foundation (see also Ephesians 2:19-22 and 1 Peter 2:4-9). God’s Spirit dwells among us, and God will “destroy” anyone who causes harm to His holy temple.

God’s church is holy ground. He is holy, and His presence dwells within the congregation. So, knowing that, how do I “remove my sandals” to recognize the holy presence of God?

Seek truth and unity. How we worship God matters because He is holy. The way we handle God’s word is vital because God is holy. The way we treat each other within God’s church also matters because of the holy presence of God. Jesus wants us to restore relationships before we worship because it affects how we worship (Matthew 5:23-24).

Seek pure relationships. Paul told Timothy to treat the young women in the church as sisters “with all purity” (1 Timothy 5:1-2). The church is holy, so our relationships with our brothers and sisters in Christ must also be holy. There were clearly men who took advantage of others and used the church as an opportunity for fulfilling their desires (2 Peter 2:13-14; 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8; 2 Timothy 3:6). When we see the church, when we look at our brothers and sisters, we must look with holy eyes, see and treat others as God sees them. God takes it seriously, and God’s people take it seriously, too.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
(1 Peter 2:9)

You were bought at a price

Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

Guys, this is just a simple encouragement today to take care of your bodies and your health. You only get one body on this earth. Because of the advancements of medicine we can replace a few parts, but in the end you get one body. Paul says in the verse above that it is not your own. You were bought by the blood of Jesus Christ.

If you are a Christian, your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. That’s plain Scripture. Our response to this knowledge and relationship to Christ and the Holy Spirit is to glorify God in our body and in our spirit.

This isn’t talked about much in church, but we need to talk about it more. Sometimes our relationship to food is unhealthy. Food is supposed to give us nourishment and even enjoyment, but if we eat too much and eat the wrong things our bodies pay the price. Even Solomon talked about how wonderful honey is, but if we eat too much of it, it makes us sick (Proverbs 25:16,27).

Who does that affect when we hurt our bodies because of neglect? Does that just affect me? No. It affects my wife and kids, too. My ability to do for them and to enjoy life with them can be greatly hindered because I’m not taking care of my body. Our influence on others for Christ is also affected when we do not live with self-control.

But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified. (1 Corinthians 9:27)

Food is wonderful, God gave all of it to us to enjoy and to receive with thanksgiving (1 Timothy 4:4-5). But if your food and your passions for it are controlling you, then you have put your passions and not God in control of your body.

All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. (1 Corinthians 6:12)

So, today, take some time to reflect upon this. This is not to say that we all are to walk around as marathon runners, bodybuilders, having 2 percent body fat. But we do need to take the encouragement and warnings of Scripture to heart about how we eat and how we take care of our health.

  1. Push away from the table a little sooner. You don’t have to heap on such big helpings.
  2. Use a smaller plate.
  3. Take a walk. Bodily exercise does profit a little, Paul said. (1 Timothy 4:8).
  4. Do your own research on how to eat healthier. There is a wealth of information out there. Here is an article about sugar and how addictive it is and the havoc too much sugar can wreak on your body.

Nothing is better for a man than that he should eat and drink, and that his soul should enjoy good in his labor. This also, I saw, was from the hand of God. (Ecclesiastes 2:24)

Some are givers, some are takers

Some are givers, some are takers…which one defines us? The passage we are going to look at today showed two very different agendas. The Jewish leadership was at the temple to take (steal, really). They had turned God’s house into a den of thieves, according to Jesus.

That day, Jesus restored the temple back to its original purpose. He drove out the corrupt money changers, and He began healing the blind and the lame. Children were running around praising Him as the Messiah. Because of Jesus, the temple once again became a place of healing, a safe place for the broken, and a haven of praise.

Then Jesus went into the temple of God and drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. And He said to them, “It is written, ‘MY HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER,’ but you have made it a ‘DEN OF THIEVES.'” Then the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them. But when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that He did, and the children crying out in the temple and saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant and said to Him, “Do You hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes. Have you never read, ‘OUT OF THE MOUTH OF BABES AND NURSING INFANTS YOU HAVE PERFECTED PRAISE’?”(Matthew 21:12-16).

Some Are Givers, Some are Takers

Because Jesus came to serve, the blind and the lame found a welcome place in the temple. When our attitudes at the church building are all “me-oriented,” then the broken will not come to us. We wouldn’t even notice it anyways, because if we are “me-oriented,” the broken can offer us nothing.

So, when we go to worship services this Sunday, what is our agenda? Do we view it like a movie theater, we pay some money, sit down and are entertained and then go our way? Is my expectation for a perfect service, flawless music, awesome sermon, and for everyone to treat me perfectly? Are we full of ideas and critical of how the doers are doing things? If so, that’s a taker’s attitude.

Or do we see this as an opportunity to serve and to help heal? Do we come with our sleeves rolled up and ready to offer our assistance? Are we on the search for the brokenhearted? Do you look for new faces? What about taking a young college student or a struggling mom out to lunch? Take note of that widow who faithfully comes every time the doors are open, but doesn’t say much. Build a relationship with that dear elderly brother or sister. Notice that preteen who comes with her grandparents that may seem a little distant. Try to create conversation and show her you genuinely care.

Jesus came to serve, the other Jewish leaders came to take. Let’s decide to follow Jesus’ example.