Feb
20

Life in the Temple

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Text: 1 Corinthians 3:16-17

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How Firm a Foundation!

There’s a classic joke that tells of a preacher leading a children’s sermon. He asks the kids, “What is brown, has a bushy tail, lives in trees and eats nuts?” One kid shouts in response, “I think it’s a squirrel, but I’m going to say Jesus!” The kids know that because they’re in church, Jesus is a right answer – the basis for everything we do here.

Every building starts with a foundation. Without it, the structure will never be sound enough to last any significant length of time because the foundation is what gives strength and stability to the rest of the building. We don’t need to read the parable Jesus told the disciples comparing the house built on sand with the house built on rock to know that for a building to last, it must start strong with the proper beginnings.

The same idea applies to being a Christian: for our faith to be the kind of faith that will carry us through all the seasons of life and the ups-and-downs it contains, it must have a firm, strong foundation.

What is the foundation of the Christian life? Jesus Christ — his forgiveness, redemption and guidance in our lives. And anyone who has God’s Spirit within him or her — any true believer — is given this foundation. Without it, our faith will be easily disturbed – led astray – and we are not likely to find it sufficient to counter its challengers.

God in the Temple: God with Us

In Jesus Christ, God came to be with us forever, and in that moment, the way He interacts with us changed forever. This was the fulfillment of God’s desire that the separation between He and humanity would come to an end. God had been working toward this for centuries, finding ways to come closer and closer to the hearts and minds of humankind.

You can see this if you look through the Bible for the different ways that the people knew God’s presence:

  • Genesis 11 – The people knew God existed, so they tried to build a tower to reach Him.
  • Exodus 20 – The people knew that God was present upon a mountain, but they also knew that He was not pleased with them – and were too terrified to approach Him.
  • Exodus 25 – Later, God’s presence came closer to the people as they journeyed, living in the tabernacle and carried in the Ark of the Covenant.
  • Mark 15 – the temple veil is torn, and God’s presence is no longer limited to the priests.
  • 1 Corinthians 13 – God’s new home is in the hearts of the people, His presence with them always. The people are the temple, individually and together.

Looking at the larger picture, it’s easy to see that God is always seeking ways to eliminate any separation between he and His people. The presence of God’s spirit within us is the fulfillment of God’s promise to us that He will not be a distant God, but a God who is intimately involved in every moment of our lives.

Living in the Temple

The first step to building and maintaining a strong foundation is being concerned with where you learn, what you learn, and how you learn it.

The Corinthians Paul was shepherding were having trouble because their foundation-building had started on a slippery cultural basis that left them confused about what and who their foundation should be. You might remember that shortly before today’s reading, Paul had taught the Corinthians that they shouldn’t be basing their faith on the person who helped them develop their faith but on the One whom their teacher had faith. “Don’t have faith in Apollos, have faith in Christ. Don’t have faith in Paul, have faith in Christ.”

Paul puts it in terms of constructing a building, using something he mentioned earlier in his letter: the wisdom of Christ. It was foolish to the world (1:18). It was not the wisdom of Paul or any other human leader (2:4-5). It was Spirit-taught and available to all who had the Spirit (2:12-15). The foundation is simply and completely Christ.

So now that people are the home of God’s presence and the temple has been instituted within the individual, several truths become visible:

  • Wherever a believer goes so does God’s temple and its mission.
  • There are now connections between how we treat ourselves and what that means for our relationship with God:
    • How do we view and value our bodies?
    • How do we view prayer if God is “in here” and not just “out there”?
    • If God desires this degree of intimacy with us, how can we only give a halfway response to Him?
    • If we are truly God’s temple, it should make a difference in the areas of our lives that are closest to our hearts: self-reliance, finances, sexuality, forgiving those who wrong us, humility, serving those in need.

God is crafting a permanent home in which he is pleased to dwell atop the foundation of his Son. God is living in the Temple. Have we made Him welcome?

Sources Consulted:

“Christopunks,” Homiletics, February 2011

Blomberg, Craig. 1st Corinthians (Zondervan)

The NIV Hebrew-Greek KeyWord Study Bible (AMG, 1996)