The Temple was complete and beautiful, yet Solomon knew no house built by man could hold God. "Will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built! (1Kings 8:27). Why then exert the effort, take the time, pay the price to build a house for God? Not because God needs the Temple, but because the Temple and its people need God.
An Episcopal church in Manhattan, The Church of the Holy Communion, opened its doors in 1844 as a place of worship and a help to the needy. It had a good run, but by mid-20th century, neglect began taking its toll. In 1983, The Church of the Holy Communion was converted into the Limelight Nightclub, the once reverent spot into a house of decadence. Yet, it would sink lower still. In the Spring of 2010, the Church turned Nightclub was reborn as the Limelight Marketplace, with 35 upscale boutiques and restaurants, complete with stained-glass windows. What had become of the house of worship?
God warned Solomon that there could come a time when, "Everyone passing by it will be astonished and will hiss, and they will say, 'Why has the Lord done thus to this land and to this house?' Then they will say, 'Because they abandoned the Lord their God who brought their fathers out of the land of Egypt and laid hold on other gods and worshiped them and served them'" (1Kings 9:8-9).
The first Temple, 960-586BC, Solomon's, was destroyed by the Babylonians. The second, 516BC-70AD, by the Romans. These temples lasted a long time, but they did not last forever. No building of man can. The prophet Isaiah cried, "Thus says the Lord: 'Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool; what is the house that you would build for me?'" (Isaiah 66:1).
This is the Church, the people of God. You are that house. "Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you?" (1Corinthians 3:16). Built to last, because the Church is not a building of man, but the handiwork of God. "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:8-10).
Heavenly Father, You are holy and righteous. I am not. You made me in Your image, so deep inside I have always known what I should be like. But, on my own, I wouldn't do anything to change. Thank You for seeking me and inviting me to follow You. Thank You for Your Son, Jesus Christ, who is the way, the truth, and the life.
Jesus said, "Follow Me." God, I commit to following You with all that I am. Help me keep that promise. Do not allow me to chase after empty religion, but may my religion be the kind of religion that You embrace, that I will keep myself pure, unpolluted by the world, and that I will look after and serve the poor, the marginalized, the orphans and widows. You are, and shall always be my first love. With all of my heart, with all of my mind, with all of my strength, I will love You, follow You, and serve You.