Neglecting the Temple of God?
Modern life can be hectic. Work, school, responsibilities, and plain old life come at us so fast. If we are not careful, we can get swept away in a sea of busywork and not have any time for God. We can even become so frantic trying to do the work of God that we have no time for our relationship with Him. God is never pleased with this, overly scheduled Christian. His work in the world always first starts with filling us with His love and glory. We cannot give out to others what we don’t have from God. We must be in His presence to share it with others. This takes time with God building us up to serve Him.
Is Your House In Great Shape but Your Temple in Ruins?
We see a clear picture of this trap of modern life in the Book of Haggai. It is a lesser known book of the Bible, but it is instructive on this point. The Israelites in Haggai have recently returned from captivity in Babylon. The nation was reborn after defeat and exile from the Promise Land. They return from captivity with fire and determination. They learned their lesson while away and want to serve God. Sin is really bad and has consequences. They understand this after years of disobedience. They swear they will dedicate their whole lives from this point on to the Lord. It is a great, if temporary, moment of faithfulness from God’s people.
They return to find God’s Temple in ruins as a result of the sins of the prior generation. Israel’s faithlessness has destroyed their access to God. So this newly set free group sets out to reopen it. They are literally putting their spiritual lives together brick upon brick. The physical reality matches their hearts God repaired in Babylon. A people was saved from the judgment of the world. They will honor God!
Building starts with great promise. Each family is assigned a section of wall to reconstruct and they do so joyfully. It is an Old Testament picture of how the church should work together as a body. Each is working independently to follow God and have their own section of wall to build. If the wall is to be consistent, they must work with each other. Each is working on their work for God. Yet, they also build together planning to join their section with their neighbors.
The Care of the World Steal from Us
After time passes and the thrill of the return wears off, a terrible thing happens. The concerns of every day life win out over the people’s good intentions. They get too busy with daily work, raising their families and building their own houses to work on God’s temple. They take care of themselves and their work while neglecting that of God. The Temple lies in ruins while the people live in comfort.
Let it never be so, right? How could they?
Yet, this is the situation many of us find ourselves in today. When we first are saved, we start off on fire for the Lord. We want to talk to Jesus every hour of the day and attend every church service we can. We serve, evangelize and read the Bible voraciously. We are building up God’s Temple. In the New Testament, we are individually and as the church referred to as the Temple of God.
When we work on our relationship with God we are building His Temple. When we work on His church, we are building His Temple.
At some point, many of us start to get like the people in Haggai. We start to fade away and wonder why. The walk to work on the Temple seems long and we are too tired for it. We can’t seem to get the energy to read the Bible or attend Bible study. We are sputtering and often mystified why. It is not hard to figure out if we are looking.
We allow ourselves to be so busy with life, family, work, and even ministry we don’t have any time for building God’s Temple. Nothing is going into our Temple project so it begins to suffer. It is no wonder our life in God is in ruins. We are too busy to work on building it. Our houses, crops, cars, and worldly cares are amply tended to, though. Satan is very happy with this Christian. Warm, fed, content and entertained but too busy for God.
Consider Your Ways
Where are our hearts? Where are our minds? Are they on the things of God and His plans? Are they building up His Temple in us and the Church?
What are we putting first in our lives? If it is anything, yes, anything other than our relationship with God, our priorities are wrong. We are laying the foundation for a problem in our individual Temple, our life. We are also neglecting the building of the corporate Temple, our church.
God’s call on our lives is not meant to be a burden or a scolding. It is a mercy and filled with grace. He calls out the Israelites because they were falling into the same trap that leads to captivity. It is what destroyed their fathers and led them to Babylon. The life consumed by things other than God is not what we are meant for. It is not good for us and does not fill us with the joy of the Lord.
It is our own Temple, us, we are called to work on after all.
Are we putting the first things first? If not, something has got to go.
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