Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. But he answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”
They were a simple people of meager means. This was a village which truly understood the value of community and togetherness. The one place where they always were together was in the house of God. That church was not only his house, but it felt like their house as well. Not one night went by without someone praising God and praying in that place. That building had stood the test of time for many generations until the storm to end all storms blew into the village. Homes were left in ruins, families were left in ruins, and the church was left in ruins. Thinking that God was found in that house made of wood and bricks, the villagers felt they had no place to worship. In their most desperate hour they could not realize how to truly access God and his power.
It might seem like a trite and tired lesson for the Church today, but we must continually remind ourselves that God does not live in houses built by the hands of men. There was a season and a purpose for both holy temples, but that time has long since passed. The veil has been torn, and the holy of holies, the place of God’s presence, is somewhere much more accessible to us today. He is present in and among his Church; He lives within us. We are now his temple. If we consider the level of care and respect which was given to those structures of old during their appointed seasons, that will direct us in how we are to care for and respect these temples we occupy today. God’s Church is his residence, and we must treat it as such, which means treating ourselves and each other as such.
I have seen incredibly beautiful and impossibly ornate churches in this country and around the world. I have seen other houses of worship just has awe inspiring and coveted. These buildings are treasured for their history and their significance, but they can become idols and stumbling blocks rather quickly. Some of these places may even be dead inside of all that beauty and splendor. We must remember that God will not be found in a place or a thing. He is found in his people. While those buildings certainly will come to ruin, these temples will last. They will be restored and glorified one day, but they will last. Father, remind us that we are the dwelling place of the holy living God, and make us a Church who honors herself out of honor for You.