The AMI QT Devotionals from April 24-30 are provided by Pastor Shan Gian, who serves as the Fenway site pastor of Symphony Church in Boston. Shan, a graduate of University of Pennsylvania and Gordon Conwell Seminary (M.Div.), is married to Jenny; and they are the proud parents of their first baby Tyler.
DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY
“Church Isn’t a Building”
2 Corinthians 6:16-18
What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said,
“I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17 Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, 18 and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.”
It may sound weird, but, for me, it always feels special to enter an actual church building, especially cathedrals. There’s a certain sense of reverence and awe that I feel when I’m in a beautiful sanctuary with long pews, stained glassed windows and a big pipe organ to boot. Having been a part of mobile churches like GCC and of Symphony Church since my college days, I’m very much accustomed to having worship services in all sorts of locations: lecture halls, banquet halls, rock clubs, retreat centers, hotels, schools, living rooms, basements, giant tents, outdoor parks, beaches, etc. That is probably why I feel the way I do whenever I get to worship in a “real” church building.
Yes, I am mindful of the saying, “Church isn’t a building,” which is important to note, especially for those who are overly impressed by the outward appearance of a church. The disciples were like that:
upon seeing the temple, they said, “Look, . . . What massive stones! What magnificent building!” (Mk. 13:1). Now, think about how we might evaluate whether a church is good or so-so. We may not verbalize it but many of us want the ambience to be right: the lighting must be good; the band needs to play cool songs at the right tempo, pace and volume; and of course, the sermon needs to be rich in biblical content, intellectually stimulating and applicable. When these elements are present and there’s a community of people who are to our liking, many would consider that a good church. No, not really because these elements are not what the church is about either.
Actually, the church is still about a building but in a different sense. Paul says here in 2 Corinthians that “We are the temple of the living God.” Think about what an amazing statement that is coming from a man of Jewish background. As hinted earlier, the temple, like cathedrals of our time, was indeed ornate, large and beautiful; however, what made it significant was what was inside: it was a holy place because of the indwelling presence and the glory of God. The Jews went to the temple with a sense of reverence because that’s where God was.
And ever since Jesus died on the cross for us and rose from the dead, WE are the temple of the living God, now; the glory and presence of God dwells within us. God himself says in this passage quoted from Leviticus 26, that “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them.” Just think about how amazing this truth is. God isn’t contained to a church building or a temple, but now He dwells within and among His people.
Church isn’t a building, but it’s about a people among whom God dwells. As we gather with our local church bodies this Lord ’s Day, as we walk into an auditorium, lecture hall, rock club, school, hotel, tent, whatever the venue, let us remind ourselves that WE are the temple, the dwelling place of the living God. As we gather as the body of Christ, God’s glory is among us. Let us come together and approach Him with joy and reverence because He is in our midst.
Prayer: Jesus, we are your temple. Remind me on this Lord’s Day to be in awe of your presence with me and with us as a body of Christ. Bless us as we worship you this day. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Leviticus 23-24