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I had mixed feelings when I learned that the library building at our original headquarters in Pasadena, California had been demolished.
Though I knew it was just a building, this particular location held historical value for our denomination and to me personally.
It’s funny how we get attached to things like buildings. Most of us have seen old homes, churches, or schools that hold significant memories in our lives torn down. We have to conclude these places have served their purpose and it’s time to move on.
It makes me think about how Jesus’ disciples felt when they went with him to the temple. They were “country boys” and were overawed by the Temple’s magnificent architecture and by its meaning in their lives. Imagine their surprise when Jesus himself said the following in Matthew 24:2, “Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”
What Jesus was predicting was unthinkable. The Temple was their headquarters, the center of their religious life, and it was physical evidence that God dwells with his people. It was where the Shekinah – the holy fire that symbolized God’s approval and acceptance – had entered into and come down onto the altar when the temple was dedicated. How could God allow such a holy building to be demolished?
What the disciples did not yet understand was that God was now dwelling with his people in a different way – through the person of Jesus. This would change the way people viewed God, the way they worshipped, and the whole structure of their religious practices.
The disciples began to understand on the day of Pentecost when the shekinah came again to Jerusalem. This time, however, it passed over the temple and came to an ordinary house. There the fire divided and hovered over the individuals gathered in an upper room.
By doing this, God was showing that through the Holy Spirit, he would begin to build a new Temple – a temple not made of hands, but made of people who believed and followed Jesus.
The apostle Peter said the following: “you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:4-5).
The new temple is being built by God and doesn’t consist of stones or metal or other building materials. The new temple consists of people – people who don’t need a special place in which to worship, but people who worship in spirit and in truth wherever they are.
This new temple is the temple you and I are part of; this is a temple that can never be demolished.
I’m Joseph Tkach, Speaking of LIFE.