Don’t you just love that new car smell? Or walking into a new house that still has that fresh clean fragrance of, well, prior to kids, dogs, and cats? Not that I’ve ever had a new car or a new house; I’m a definite “second-hand Rose” (or third, or fourth…), but there is something about newness that makes you want to keep it that way as long as possible.
Until it’s no longer new, that is.
There’s a truism that says “familiarity breeds confidence”. The problem is that confidence can degrade into neglect, whether it’s a house or car, or a relationship, or even my own heart, mind and body.
In the Old Testament I see the exquisite care that was taken in constructing and maintaining first the tabernacle and eventually the temple. It was done with awe and great respect, with only certain people being allowed certain functions, and the beauty must have been breathtaking. Why? Because it was the “place” where God chose to inhabit and represent Himself. Not that Yahweh was containable in anything manmade, but the point was still well taken. Problems began manifesting themselves as the priests began being a little less awestruck by the temple, a little (well, okay, more than a little) careless with the presence of the Most High. And the Main Resident was summarily unhappy about it, not only in the Old Testament (2 Chronicles 36:14), but Jesus Himself made his displeasure known in no uncertain terms, (Matthew 21:12-17).
What is even more incredible, unbelievable, unfathomable—except by the grace of God—is that we are now the “temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:19,20)
We are the walking, talking, breathing, sweating, working, living tabernacles of the Creator of the Universe. (Selah—pause and think of that, if you dare.) God, in His audacious wisdom, has chosen to carry and represent His presence through each believer individually, and all disciples corporately, not only to a dying world, but to each other.
This puts a whole new spin on the word “church”. Because I am the church. So are you, dear reader, if you are a believer in Jesus Christ. As such, there are necessary repercussions in carrying the presence of God:
- Going “to” church becomes an important discipline because I have a part to play in encouraging, instructing, and supporting of other walking, breathing fellow tabernacles.
- Going “to” church isn’t about me, as in how friendly the other tabernacles are, or how entertaining the musical tabernacles
- Going “to” church is not contingent upon how dusty or soiled or socially comfortable the other tabernacles in the next seat are.
- Going “to” church is also meant to help me sweep out and polish up the neglected and misused parts in my own tabernacle, things like offenses, disgust, irritability, and selfishness.
Carrying about the presence of God is a beautiful and terrifying gift. My confidence can lead to complacency and neglect, or to boldness and greater light for others. Personally, I’d prefer to keep that “sweet aroma” of fresh cleanness, rather than have Jesus turning over some tables in my life.