Mat 24:1 As Jesus was leaving the Temple grounds, His disciples pointed out to Him the various Temple buildings. Mat 24:2 But He responded, "Do you see all these buildings? I tell you the truth, they will be completely demolished. Not one stone will be left on top of another!"
There are those today who view size and monetary value of a church as things to be glorified and as aspects of proof of God's working in a ministry. To them I pose this question.
Don't you know from the scriptures that these things are of no value to God?
Outward appearance for show and to gain recognition mean nothing to God. Million dollar stadium churches with their 50,000 members can just as easily fall to the deceptions of the enemy as a small quiet church in your local town. Pomp and puffed up show is only noise to God if it is not generated from a heart felt love for the souls of others. Just in case you think I am picking on the big churches, remember that this is an issue not constrained to just church size. Let's think about what Jesus is saying...
Jesus is dealing with this issue in the disciples. They had been raised in a society where the church [temple] was the most important building in all of Judea. It was the crowning glory of the Jewish people. It was the center of their society and it was where all the important things happened in that society. Men were raised up in power there and condemned to death there. Men were slandered and men were uplifted. Men were absolved from sin, or left to die in it...there in that place. Men were kept outside it's gates to suffer condemnation and accusing glares. Things of such great importance happened there...how could it not be the most important location to God?
Just as we say the presence of God makes a place Holy, so it is with God's people. If there are none of God's people there, then God will not be there either.
I want your Mercy not your Sacrifices.
Whom are you trying to please when you spend exorbitant amounts of money on a podium or a flashing light and sound system. Money represents the sweat of someones brow, and yet we would take that sweat, that sacrifice, and waste it on man-pleasing? Ask yourself; what pleases God? Now don't guess at the answer...don't make up your own...go to the scriptures and find out. Then, simply listen to what God is telling you.
For My people have abandoned Me and offered sacrifices to pagan gods, and I am very angry with them for everything they have done. My anger will burn against this place, and it will not be quenched.' 2Kings 22:17 [NLT]
Should we offer Him thousands of rams and ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Should we sacrifice our firstborn children to pay for our sins? No, O people, the LORD has told you what is good, and this is what He requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.
Fear the LORD if you are wise! His voice calls to everyone in Jerusalem: "The armies of destruction are coming; the LORD is sending them. What shall I say about the homes of the wicked filled with treasures gained by cheating? What about the disgusting practice of measuring out grain with dishonest measures? How can I tolerate your merchants who use dishonest scales and weights? The rich among you have become wealthy through extortion and violence. Your citizens are so used to lying that their tongues can no longer tell the truth. Micah 6:7-12 [NLT]
My friends, we must beware of the pretended holiness that permits the skirting of the law of God. We cannot be sanctified when we trample that law under our feet, and judge ourselves by a standard of our own creation.
Yet they say to each other, 'Don't come too close or you will defile me! I am holier than you!' These people are a stench in My nostrils, an acrid smell that never goes away. "Look, My decree is written out in front of Me: I will not stand silent; I will repay them in full! Yes, I will repay them—both for their own sins and for those of their ancestors," says the LORD. "For they also burned incense on the mountains and insulted Me on the hills. I will pay them back in full!
"But I will not destroy them all," says the LORD. "For just as good grapes are found among a cluster of bad ones (and someone will say, 'Don't throw them all away—some of those grapes are good!'), so I will not destroy all Israel. For I still have true servants there. I will preserve a remnant of the people of Israel and of Judah to possess My land. Those I choose will inherit it, and My servants will live there. Isaiah 65:5-9 [NLT]
If God doesn't want shiny suits and frilly dresses, big churches and vibrant song services then what does He want?
He wants our hearts and He wants to live in us. We are the temple [church] of God, not some pile of lumber and nails. My friends, the greatest stench in the nostrils of God is praise from a rebellious pride filled heart. We praise Him with our hands in the air, tears running down our faces, rapturous singing gushing from our mouths, and sweet melodious music to accompany it all...and then...we turn around and slander our neighbor, ignore the lost, pile wicked shameful thoughts upon the shoulders of the weak, and then walk away feeling like we are so good and pure and godlike. When will we hear him as a people? When will we open the steel doors of our hearts; seemingly welded shut?
Aren't you glad that God doesn't love you the way you love others?
Here is what God wants from us...
Rom_13:10 Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God's law.
Gal_5:6 For when we place our faith in Christ Jesus, there is no benefit in being circumcised or being uncircumcised. What is important is faith expressing itself in love.
1Jn_3:14 If we love our Christian brothers and sisters, it proves that we have passed from death to life. But a person who has no love is still dead.
1Jn_3:17 If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God's love be in that person?
1Jn_4:12 No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and His love is brought to full expression in us.
1Jn_4:18 Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced His perfect love.
Lest you think you can do this on your own I reiterate that you need Jesus living in you to accomplish it. Realize your deep sinfulness and then fall at the feet of Jesus. He will reach down, touch you and make you whole. Then He will bid you to "arise" and follow Him. Follow Him to those He wishes to love through you.
If this is the desire of your heart today, then I ask you to join me in the following prayer...
Dear Father in Heaven,
I thank You and Praise You so much for what you did for me through Your Son Jesus Christ. You gave me Life when I deserved death and now You are asking me to live a life pleasing to You. I confess that I cannot do this without You. I know I can't and You know I can't. I confess my unbelief and ask that You would give me a great portion of faith. I accept the death of Jesus in my place and because of that I boldly ask that You will fill me with Your Holy Spirit. I want to have the Mind of Christ today. If there is anyone that You want to love through me today, I ask that You will give me the words and the courage to do Your Will. I ask these things confessing that Jesus Christ is the Son of the Living God. Amen.