We don’t need a building to have church, which ought to lead us to the realization of what constitutes the most important characteristics of the church—love and devotion to both God and our fellow worshippers. Yet buildings can be a blessing. Is your home important to you? Of course it is. You don’t need the house to be a family, but it sure does help. Therefore, upkeep on your home is a good thing. Likewise, out of gratitude for the physical place God has provided for you to experience his presence, the time, effort and money you put into it to keep it in tiptop shape is an act of worship that pleases the Lord.
Going Deep // Focus: 2 Kings 12:6-12
But by the twenty-third year of Joash’s reign, the priests still had not repaired the Temple. So King Joash called for Jehoiada and the other priests and asked them, “Why haven’t you repaired the Temple? Don’t use any more money for your own needs. From now on, it must all be spent on Temple repairs.” So the priests agreed not to accept any more money from the people, and they also agreed to let others take responsibility for repairing the Temple. Then Jehoiada the priest bored a hole in the lid of a large chest and set it on the right-hand side of the altar at the entrance of the Temple of the Lord. The priests guarding the entrance put all of the people’s contributions into the chest. Whenever the chest became full, the court secretary and the high priest counted the money that had been brought to the Lord’s Temple and put it into bags. Then they gave the money to the construction supervisors, who used it to pay the people working on the Lord’s Temple—the carpenters, the builders, the masons, and the stonecutters. They also used the money to buy the timber and the finished stone needed for repairing the Lord’s Temple, and they paid any other expenses related to the Temple’s restoration.
Does your church building matter? Apparently it did to King Joash. He found the disrepair of God’s temple so disgusting that he initiated a massive fund raising campaign to bring it back to tiptop shape. He wanted a place of worship for the people that reflected the splendor of God.
But what about today? Are church buildings important? Should money be spent to beautify it? Why should we focus on a structure when the New Testament clearly states the new temple of God takes shapes in the hearts of his people:
Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? (1 Corinthians 3:16)
So does your church building really matter? Well, no, and yes. To be sure, we make a grave error by confusing the church building with the church—the people of God. The church can exist, and even thrive without a structure. I have preached in churches in Africa that met under trees—and I would say that their devotion to God and passion for praise exceeded by far anything I have seen among American congregations that meet in the most beautiful buildings imaginable. I have shared fellowship with churches that meet in homes—and the love those saints shared for one another attained a level that I have not experienced in our more structured church settings. I have attended churches that met in rented spaces—a school auditorium, a former postal building, a theatre—and their services definitely attracted the Lord’s presence. The lack of a physical structure did not hinder the most important things that made those churches the temple of the Holy Spirit: love and devotion for both God and for each other.
So no, you don’t need a building to have church. And that ought to lead us to the realization of what constitutes the most important characteristics of the church. Yet buildings can be a blessing. Is your home important to you? Of course it is. You don’t need the house to be a family, but it sure does help. And therefore, upkeep on your home is a good thing.
If you worship in a church building, God’s blessing rests upon you and your fellowship worshippers. Many believers around the world don’t have what you have. And if they did, their gratitude for it would keep them from ever taking it for granted. Moreover, they would have no problem sacrificing for its upkeep. You shouldn’t have a problem with that either. Out of gratitude for the physical place God has provided for you to experience his presence, the time, effort and money you put into it to keep it in tiptop shape is an act of worship that pleases the Lord.
For sure, don’t neglect the true church—the people who gather to worship God. But don’t neglect the place where they meet either. It is sacred space.