Psalm 26:8 I love the house where you live, O Lord,
the place where your glory dwells.
I was not actively aware of this verse until a missionary friend had it put on T-shirts for his church. Both the Hebrew and the Greek terms that are generally translated as “church” mean “assembly,” so the focus is on the people rather than the building, but this verse is obviously focused on a location. However, the definition of that location is important. It doesn’t specify “the place with a steeple,” or any other architectural distinction. Of course in David’s time the tabernacle was still in use, so it was a matter of fabric with wooden supports. No, David’s focus is on the presence of the Lord, and we would do well to apply that same yardstick. There are some magnificent church buildings that are currently little if anything more than museums. It is possible the Lord manifested His presence there in the past, but that has become a distant memory, or even forgotten entirely. Various anti-Christian governments have taken it on themselves to destroy church buildings, and that is going on even today. However they, and the Christians whom they are persecuting, would do well to remember that God’s Church is not a building, and He will manifest Himself where hearts are open and responsive to Him. That same truth needs to be remembered by those who take great pride in their buildings. As Jesus said about Herod’s temple, “not one stone will be left on another.” (Mark 13:2) God very graciously manifests Himself in specific locations where people worship Him in spirit and in truth, but He is not limited to or by those locations. We need to be focused on being His temple ourselves. (1 Corinthians 3:17; 6:19; 2 Corinthians 6:16)
As a pastor who has been blessed with a congregation and a building, this is of great relevance to me. The building is paid for and we are making good progress in paying for the land the building stands on, but the church, that is, the believers here, are already paid for by the blood of the Lamb. I am to be a good steward of the building, but my focus needs to be on welcoming God’s presence by His Spirit. I have seen people be touched just by walking into the building, but I have particularly seen people touched when we start worshiping God together here. I need to seek to make the Lord welcome in my own heart and life first, and then as a pastor, seek to make Him welcome in this assembly. I have no real power on my own, so I had better be focused on allowing Him to manifest His power!
Father, this is a truth I have known for a long time, yet I let it slip out of focus too often. Help me welcome You indeed, worshiping You with all I am, so that all the believers may be led to do likewise, for You to be free to do all that You desire to do, in and through us, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!