Tuesday, January 23, 2007

I Will Build My Church

According to 1 Peter, God takes the initiative. He gives us birth that allows us to love and believe in Jesus (1:3, 8); He plants the seed that has its fruit in it (1:23); He builds the Temple, the residence of His glory, by incorporating people like you and I, living stones, which, by the way, are practical impossibilities apart from His initiative (2:5).

We believe in this God, but we also show by our practice that we believe something else. The initiative of yesterday may belong to God, but the initiative of today belongs with us, with me. We read and write books, we attend and conduct training seminars, and we build like the Babelites (Gen 11), constructing our human significance, demonstrating our own importance and success, because, of course, we are the initiators of all good things that really matter. Good ideas. Great plans. Monumental projects.

We have growing confidence in technological manipulation – even to create life. God is the author of life, but we are learning how to produce it without him, though confronting us with haunting ethical issues. We contribute unceasing energies to a management control that will leverage better results this year than last, pressuring the perishable seed (1:23) to see what can be wrung from it, and leaving behind bruised and burned-out casualties. We tear down our barns to build bigger ones (Luke 12:18), hoping that that the bigger church building will compensate for the disciples’ immaturity, or the bigger house will make one feel better about the family’s dysfunctionality.

But being practically involved in God’s temple has not only to do with recognizing God’s initiative in its construction. It also demands that we be properly aligned with God’s select Cornerstone, Christ. The question is really not, “Do I feel good about myself” but "Is my life correctly aligned with Jesus Christ?” That question is more difficult than merely saying, “Follow Jesus.” Due to the distance caused by centuries and cultures, let alone sin and selfishness, we often have a hard time answering how it is that we are to align our lives with Christ.

And so when we face “life” questions, we tend to take the initiative and resort to our most trusted resources. They are doctors, psychologists, financial advisors, and school counselors. Most have no regard for God, or your faith, or the Cornerstone. They advise according to their own faith – faith in science, or faith in proven principles of (temporal) investment, or the secret of happiness as found in prescription drugs.

Does science, medicine, etc., have a role? Of course. We ought to thank God for what has been learned about how His creation works. But these things must be applied spiritually. They will not – they cannot – be applied spiritually by these people alone.

Our present and usual course of actions denies a practical faith in God. Our handling of life’s biggest and most painful issues denies full confidence in pursuing Christlikeness (Hebrews 3). We shortcut the Spirit’s guidance in our lives by resorting to other guides who will not direct us to the Cornerstone or give God His due.

How do we expect the Spirit to work? Through God’s Word. And how is God’s Word brought to bear upon one’s life? Through reading, study and meditation. Have you submitted yourself to that kind of investment in God’s Word? Also, through various individuals’ teaching of the Word. But also through the discernment of life issues as evaluated in light of Scripture and as lovingly handled by trusted Christian brothers and sisters.

God’s House is built upon the Cornerstone, and with many living stones. The Christian life is not to be lived alone, but in community. We find our proper alignment with the Cornerstone by the help of other living stones, other believers who are handlers of God’s Word and bearers of God’s Spirit, (being) equipped to hear and to help.

Is there another believer whom you trust? Are there others with whom you could share your heart, and allow them to ask questions, and understand? The sad reality is that many of us are more likely to reveal our doubts, questions and hurts to an unbeliever. Is it because we don’t really believe in God, we don’t really care about Christlikeness, and we simply cannot trust the Spirit to use other believers spiritually in my life?

What God builds will last forever, for His glory. What is built without faith (Hebrews 11:6) and apart from Him (John 15:5) will be destroyed, to our shame.

No comments: