Thursday, April 15, 2010

God's Gonna Get you!

"We must reverence the house of God! God is not pleased when He sees how we disrespect His house! Bringing in these red igloo cups.... eatin' our tater chips! Keep those on the OUTside!" the sermon blared from my CD player. Pretty much the entire sermon was how to keep the building clean by wiping your feet before entering--taking a shower before you come to church, and please, keep all the food out of the sanctuary. All of his scripture references were in the Old Covenant, before Jesus came and paid our penalty for sins.

"God's gonna get you!" continued the sermon. With each spoken phrase, my heart sunk deeper and deeper. These words were coming from a preacher that a coworker just raved about. Knowing the preacher's wife as a former piano student, as well as friend, I was interested in hearing her husband preach.

I think the point of the Gospel was totally skipped over. It may surprise us to find out, but, contrary to popular belief, the building which we congregate on a weekly basis to sing songs and read scripture, is NOT the house of God. Granted, in the Old Covenant, God did indeed live in tents and temples built by human hands. He dwelt in the Ark of the Covenant, behind closed curtains. Before the high priest entered the Holies of Holies, he had to atone for his sins as well as for the sins of the people. To stray even the least little bit meant sudden death to the high priest. When the bells on the hem of his garment stopped ringing, the others would drag the now-dead-priest outside. Even in the instance of someone dying, no one was allowed into the holy of holies. (Exodus 30 and Leviticus 16). This story was used to guilt the present day congregation into keeping their red Igloo cups and 'tater chips outside of the sanctuary. How sad.

The book of Hebrews takes special care to differentiate between the Old Covenant and New Covenant. When the New Covenant came into effect at the cross of Jesus, the Law was fulfilled, and we no longer live in hopes of fulfilling the Law. Therefore, as interesting as the Old Testament tabernacle stories are, they are in no wise relevant to our 'act of worship' today. Our reasonable act of worship today is not singing songs or jumping pews, but rather, simply being available to God, to live His life in and through us as He sees fit.

I propose another avenue to keep the drinks and chips outside the church door. The reason it would be a good idea to keep the food out of the sanctuary, is an act of love. In this particular building, there are a lot of wooden trims in the pews, and church hymnals. Now, as we know of eating potato chips, it leaves the hands rather greasy. How inconsiderate would it be for us to have grease all over the pews and song books, for someone else to clean; or else someone else winds up having to use our grease laden song book, or sitting in our grease spot? Is that how love responds? "I don't care how it affects you, I want my chips and drinks, therefore I'll eat them!" No.. if, as a local congregation, it's voted on to keep the food out, then by all means, do so. But to use God as your weapon of choice???

Good News, Saints. We now live in the New Covenant. We now have a house, not made with human hands, but made by God. We are a part of something much larger than a local congregation. Saints--you are part of the body of Christ. That is one identity that will never change.
Be blessed.

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