We read the Bible to help with our understanding of God and His ways. In the Old Testament after the stories of creation, God chooses Abram to be the Father and Patriarch of His chosen people (Ge 12 -25:18). By the time that Moses is born (Ex 2), God’s chosen people are many in number but are in captivity in Egypt. Throughout the life of Moses, God is with Moses and His people, Israel (Ex 2:1 – Dt 34:12). The relationship that God had with Israel was that of a caring Father in teaching them how to live as a Faithful and Holy people. During this time the Tent of Meeting was set up so that God could be with Israel and give them direction. The area that contained the Arc of the Covenant was in the inner portion that was called the Holy of Holies, because it was there that God was present. This was the first Sanctuary and the place where the first priests, Aaron and his sons could minister and lead the community, Israel. Throughout the rest of the OT are stories of the temple in Jerusalem, the promised Messiah and how the people of Israel lived with and without their God. These stories as well as all the rest of the OT stories end with a sinful people having a new beginning with God by His Grace.
We, however, are New Testament Christians. To save us from our sinful nature God came to us in the flesh as the man Jesus Christ. The NT is full of stories about sin, belief, faith and God’s love and grace. We, however, are like the OT people in our sin and lack of faith. In our culture today the number of believers is shrinking. Churches have fewer people and are closing where once they were flourishing. Why?
If we examine how the church grew after Jesus, we may get a different perspective. At that time the temple in Jerusalem had the innermost walled Sanctuary where the high priest met with God. Outside of that was the place where the men of faith would be. There was also a place for women believers. Outside of that was the walled courtyard that believers could enter, but outsiders were excluded. With the Death of Jesus, the curtain in the Temple Sanctuary was torn in two, indicating that God’s Love and Grace were available to all (Mt 27:61, Mk 15:38, Lk 23:45). The growth of the Way (Christianity) had little to do with the temple in Jerusalem. The Apostles and Disciples (Ministers and Elders) explained and lived the Good News of Christ’s resurrection. The Word of Christ was spread while walking on the road, in meetings, in the market place and among friends and strangers in all walks of life. We believe that this is what has been lost.
The Sanctuary is a place where God is present. On our Holy day (Sunday) we go to a walled building we call the church, and it will have an altar where we are reminded that God is present. We will have a minister who will give us a sermon teaching, enlightening, and perhaps scaring or amusing us. And then we leave. We are happy being saved, and that way we can live our lives the rest of the week in the manner in which we are accustomed. We are New Testament people living as if we are Old Testament people waiting for our Messiah and to save our souls when we die. The walls of our church protect us from all those outside, because we are Gods chosen people – after all we go to church every Sunday.
Even in the OT the “Church” was not the building, but it was the people that believed. The people were made holy through God, through their belief and by the actions they took. They were instructed and lead by their minister who was selected by God to guide them.
The Disciple group suggests that you ask yourself some questions.
Are you more likely to ask someone into your home than to invite them to your church?
Are you praying more than once each day?
Are you daily seeking God by reading and understanding His Word?
Would you stop someone from swearing in front of somebody else’s children?
Have you ever made a friend from a former enemy of yours?
Have you done any work to help someone in need during the last month?
Do you treat all people with kindness and respect?
Do you look to God, as Him helping you, or as you serving Him?
Are your Church walls coming down or are you still erecting them?