God looks on us as His dwelling
I wonder if any of you are ‘Through the Keyhole’ fans. The programme lets you wander through someone’s house with Keith Lemon as your guide. You look at everything (?) and then guess who owns the house. What does the house say about the person who lives there? Houses speak volumes about their inhabitants!
Do you look at people’s front doors as you walk down the street? Some are glazed, some are solid, some look like castle gates and some have entry phones on them; they may be wood or plastic, dull or bright, with or without a letter-box; some are foreboding, some are friendly; some have notices on, some take a hunt to find a bell-push. What do these doors say about the people who live inside?
Lots more information is given by whatever is in front of the door, from pavement through to security-gated driveway, with manicured garden or parking-bay in-between. Then you can look at the wall in which the door is set. That speaks volumes too.
What does the room in which you are sitting while you read this letter say about you? There’s me guessing you are reading this in your own home but perhaps you are reading this in church while you wait for a service to start, or for someone to say there’s a cuppa ready. What does the church building say about the congregation? Close your eyes and take a journey from the street where you first see the church building to where you sit in the church. What does the building say? It may tell you about the congregation now, or it may speak volumes about the congregation that built the church. The changes brought by succeeding generations will tell a story about a faith journey of the people of God. Can you hear the story? What is central? What is on the edge? What’s been taken away? (only answerable by those with a long memory in the same church… unless there are gaps where things once stood). What would you like to put in?
And what if…
…the proverbial Martian came in to look around, what would he/she/it make of the place, of the people, of what they think goes on there and what it all means?
The church has always been about building, but in the early days it was not about bricks and mortar, but faith and numbers and a lifestyle worthy of being called ‘Christian’. Tertullian, who lived cAD160-220 wrote ‘Look how they love one another, but [pagans] hate one another; and look how ready they are to die for each other, [but pagans are readier to kill each other] (Treatise ‘To The Gentiles’ and ‘Apology’).
So if God comes and looks through the ‘keyhole of our heart’ what does he see? What does it say about the person living there? What has been built in the way of faith, of worship, of Christian service, or of knowing the faith, or of understanding the faith? What has been built in the way of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control (see Galatians 5.22-23)? Is faith built on flimsy ideas formed in childhood or on a life hammered out in the adult world? Is it strong or a tottering wall (Psalm 62.3)? 1 Corinthians 3.10-17 reminds us that whatever we think of the faith we have built, God looks on it as his dwelling place. Yes! God looks on us as his dwelling! And when people look at us, what kind of a dwelling do they see? Is it anything like the building God sees?