“Do you not know that you are God’s temple
and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?”
1 Corinthians 3:16
After reading the title of this devotional, you might be mad. RELAX. Don’t throw your hat on the ground and stomp on it just yet. Let me explain.
I love church—the building—yes. But, I am “the church” and so are you, if you’ve accepted Christ’s forgiveness! However, me attending the building or gathering no more makes me acceptable to God than dressing up a monkey in a three-piece suit, handing him a Bible and a tambourine, and then setting him on the front row, makes him acceptable to God. Our hearts have to be right, no matter where we are at. This is what’s most important to God, our hearts. Does Jesus dwell there? Is it brand new? (See Ephesians 3:16-19, Romans 6:6-7, Galatians 2:20, 2 Corinthians 5:17, Colossians 2:9-10).
Every Sunday morning millions of people get ready for church. They put on their best clothes and head off to a geographical location to learn about God and worship Him. But really, it doesn’t matter where the actual church-going Christian is physically. God is much more interested in us understanding what kind of church we are—you and I. Luke even penned what Paul said about this, in Acts 17:24:
“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands”
Friend, we house His Spirit at all times (see 1 Corinthians 3:16, 6:19)–but do we show the world who Jesus really is through us? Or are we thinking that God is giving us a gold star for driving our rears to the nearest church building and sitting there for an hour? I thought this way for years.
And really, all we have to do is try “going to church” for so long until we grasp that our appearance there isn’t going to fix our lives or fulfill us. Church attendance can be important, yes, I’m not downplaying that, but so many Christians have made it the end-all-be-all. They’ve made a law out of going there.
“You skipped church?!” *GASP* “Are you still a Christian?! Wait until I tell so-and-so!”
This mindset of “grace based on building attendance” is ludicrous. Christ destroyed the need for an actual building to be able to have access to God. When He was crucified, a 3-foot-thick veil was torn from top to bottom, which led to the most holy place of the temple! (See Matthew 27:51). So now, as New Covenant believers, because of Christ’s blood we have complete access to God every second of the day! (See Ephesians 3:12, Hebrews 4:16).
Nobody is better than you! And nobody is worse, either, because they go to church, or don’t go to church. Church going means nothing if we don’t allow ourselves to be the church–to live it out! Once we believe, we literally become a place where Jesus lives and dwells with love, truth, and confidence!
In the book of Hebrews it says “we are his house” (see Hebrews 3:6). WE ARE. You and me. All of us Christians together all throughout the world, we form the Church because Jesus lives in us! We are the body of Christ! He is the head and we are His hands, feet, and mouth! When you read the word church in the Bible this is what it’s referring to–us! NOT A BUILDING!
You might ask me, “So Matt, are you against going to church?” Well heck no. Go to church! But go for the right reasons! Go to grow! Don’t go to earn anything from God—or worse—to think you’re better than those who don’t go. Some of the meanest acting, most unloving people I know are faithful church-goers because of this incorrect mindset. They say such things as:
“Well…if they don’t go to church then they just ain’t Christian.”
“BACKSLIDERS! You better get back into church if you don’t want to go to hell!”
Or you ask them, “Are you a Christian?” and they’ll reply with, “Yeah, I go to church.”
For so many years, before I came to understand God’s grace, my response would have been, “So what! You don’t show it! Show me Jesus! If going to church makes me like you, then you can keep it! I don’t want to be like you at all!”
Friends, we gotta have change. We gotta change the way the world looks at us church-going Christians! Church attendance means nothing if we don’t allow Christ to live through us. If we refuse to do this, then why are we going? We may as well sleep in or go fishing–or whatever. Be willing to allow the Holy Spirit to live through you! Be being the Church! LET HIM OUT OF YOU!
So today, my friends, know this: I’m all for church. Go. Please go. Find one and get plugged in. You are a vital part of the body of Christ! But never find your identity in that building–or in what you do for the building. Find your identity in who lives in you! Why? Because you really are, His Church.
A prayer for you: Lord, thank you for allowing me to be born in a country where I can speak freely about you–for the most part anyway. Each Sunday, countless amounts of people go to buildings to worship you and be taught about you. Today, I lift up every preacher and teacher all throughout the world, directly to you. Touch their minds and help them understand who you really are, as well as who they really are. Help them to teach their listeners about your love, grace, and truth. Use their words to mold this generation into people who love you, respect you, honor you, and allow you to live through them–organically. Thank you. In Christ’s name I pray, amen.
This devotional is from 60 Days for Jesus, Volume 1. Get your copy here!