One of the mistakes of many followers of Jesus Christ is that they make faith in Christ an individual thing. But as we study the Bible we come to realize that my being a follower of Jesus is about much more than just me. It is about my family of faith, my church.
Many of you know that I have made memorizing Scripture a top priority over the last couple year. Meditating on these verses has been one of the benefits. I have been thinking a lot about 1 Corinthians 3:16. “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16) It can be easy to miss the specifics of this particular verse.
The Apostle Paul addresses 10 issues in the church in Corinth in 1 Corinthians. The first four chapters focus on the most important issue, the fragmentation of the congregation around human leaders. It is in this context that we find our verse. It is worth pointing out that the word “you” is used two times, and both instances are plural (versus singular.) Why is this important? Paul is reminding the congregation that there is something very unique about their whole congregation. A group of followers of Jesus, the local church, is a collective temple of God, made up of individual believers with the indwelling Holy Spirit. Let me encourage you to take a moment to ponder this profound truth. It means that just as we personally should direct our behavior in a way that honors Jesus, so are we responsible for doing the same with fellow believers.
Many of you know that we are developing property to be used as a permanent location for our congregation. I recently received a call that someone had broken out a window on a used office modular that is temporarily stored on the property awaiting installation. So, I went over and boarded up that broken window and the next day, with help, covered the other windows. You could say that I was protecting our church. But that is not what Paul is saying. He is focusing on the spiritual reality of a local church, the interaction of its members.
And this leads to a few obvious applications. First, I protect my church by protecting the testimony of Jesus in my community. The eyes of the community are on followers of Jesus. Yes, they expect from us and rightly so. This letter reminds us again and again that our testimony is worth more than getting my way, which is no different than what we see every day. Yet, a group of diverse people loving on each other is unique. Second, I protect my church be dealing with issues Biblically. I am afraid that too often we avoid dealing with issues by attempting to sweep them under the rug. The problem with this approach is that the problem does not go away. The best first step after prayer is a one-on-one meeting to resolve issues. It is amazing how things get worked out when people just talk.
I found myself racing to beat dusk to get the broken window covered. I was concerned that there may be further damage done if it was left open. My question is “Will we treat broken relationships with fellow believers the same way?”
-Pastor Joe Parkinson