Tag Archives: Dwelling

“If I Really Believe What I Say I Believe…”

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O Lord, I love the house in which you dwell,
    and the place where your glory abides.

Psalm 26:8 (NRSVCE)

“If I really believe what I say I believe…”

I used this phrase a few weeks ago as the foundation for a message I gave about resurrection and eternity. It’s a phrase that I utter increasingly in my personal conversations with Life. Along my spiritual journey, I have observed that the institutions of Christianity to which I’ve belonged, along with their respective members, are faithful in reciting what we believe, but our personal beliefs and subsequent behaviors don’t always align with the recitations. Often, this is because of well-worn patterns of thought and belief that are embraced without question.

Jesus came to radically change the way we think about God and relate to both God and others. Instead of believing, embracing, and living out what Jesus taught us, the institutional church largely fell back into ancient patterns of religion. In short, we don’t really believe what we say we believe.

One of the more common ways I’ve observed “stated belief” being incongruent with “true belief” came to mind this morning as I read David’s song lyrics. David states that he “loves the house in which [God] dwells, and the place where [God’s] glory abides.” For David, he is referencing God’s tabernacle/temple which is the central location God asked the Hebrew people to worship.

Jesus changed that. Jesus changed that completely. Jesus tore down the established human concept of “temple” and told His followers to follow an entirely different train of thought.

The Jews then responded to him, “What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?”

Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”

John 2:18-19

You realize, don’t you, that you are the temple of God, and God himself is present in you? No one will get by with vandalizing God’s temple, you can be sure of that. God’s temple is sacred—and you, remember, are the temple.
1 Corinthians 3:16-17 (MSG)

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NIV)

Jesus shifted the location of God’s dwelling on Earth from a physical building in a central location to the flesh and blood humans in whom His Spirit resides. For the first 300 years after Jesus resurrection and ascension, the followers of Jesus had no buildings. There were no churches. Believers met mostly in homes around a dinner table. God’s temple was the flesh and blood individuals who believed and followed Jesus.

So, if I really believe what I say I believe…

I don’t go to church, I am the church.

Loving God’s house means loving my own body.

When I don’t take care of my body, I’m not taking care of God’s temple.

Treating my body with contempt, neglect, or abuse is a spiritual issue in which I am profaning the dwelling place of God.

Acting one way on Sunday in a church building and another way all week at work or home is evidence that I really don’t believe.

In the quiet this morning, I get why followers of Jesus went back to the old edifice complex. For 1700 years we rebuilt temples made with human hands and ignored one of the fundamental changes Jesus came to make on Earth. We shifted the dwelling place of God from ourselves back to church buildings, cathedrals, and basilicas. In essence, we said:

“No thank you, God. Really. It’s nice of you to want to dwell in me, but I’ve come to realize that it’s so much easier the old way. I’m much happier if your house is a building down the street. If you’re dwelling in me, then there are so many strings attached. That’s a whole new level of expectation, and I’m not sure I’m up for that. I mean, there’s no escape. This whole COVID thing has taught me that sometimes I’m better off having my own space. Seriously, if you dwell in me, all the time, you’re always there. I have to be honest. I’m not sure you want to see me at my worst. I know I don’t want you to see me like that.

“In fact, God. I have to tell you. I’m not all that thrilled with this body you’ve given me. I despise it sometimes. And I know you created it, and that’s just not a conflict I really want to get into because I’m pretty comfortable being self-critical. It’s all I’ve really known.

“So, let’s go back to the old way of doing things, God. Hang out in that building down the street and I’ll visit you on Sundays and holidays. I’ll drop in, sing your praises, say that prayer you taught us, and recite the words on the screen. I’ll even give a few bucks. Is it still tax deductible? Whatever. I’ll give. Let’s just forget this dwelling in me and me. Let’s just keep our boundaries.

Trust me, it’ll be better for both of us.”

If I really believe what I say I believe. Then loving the house in which God dwells takes on a whole new level of meaning.

I’m headed to CrossFit.

Have a great day.

Dwelling

crossroadsabc via Flickr
crossroadsabc via Flickr

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
Psalm 91:1 (NIV)

Wendy and I love our little house. Because we both work out of home offices, this house is where you will find us most of the time. With the exception of stay-at-home parents with young children and those who are retired, the average person spends most of their waking hours away from their house in school, in an office, or on the job somewhere. He or she only comes home to eat and sleep and maintain some of the other necessities of life. It is the opposite for Wendy and me. We live together in this house most all of the time. We may go out to church, go out to socialize, and go out to recreate. I am required to make business trips to other cities and we will visit our dwelling at the lake. But, when we’re home we’re generally right here in our house 24/7/365. We eat, sleep, work, rest, and recreate right here with one another pretty much all the time.

The lyric to Psalm 91 recognizes blessings and benefits to those who dwell in God’s shelter. I thought of this in light of Wendy and me and our little house this morning. I tend to believe that most of us approach God much like a convenience store or fast food restaurant. We dwell someplace away from God 99 percent of the time, but we pay a visit once or twice a week for spiritual supply and provision, or perhaps simply out of a sense of obligation. But this is an altogether different paradigm and is exactly opposite of the word picture painted by Psalm 91 which calls for us to co-habitate with God day and night. The picture presented in Psalm 91 is us dwelling in God’s presence. We are present with God and God is present with us in our work, our sleep, our meals, our recreation, our hanging out, our chores, and our rest.

Today I’m grateful for my life and the blessing of getting to live and work the way we do. I want my relationship and life with Wendy, here in our little house, to be a reflection of my relationship and life with God…dwelling together.

Chapter-a-Day Exodus 27

Burning the midnight oil. "Now, order the Israelites to bring you pure, clear olive oil for light so that the lamps can be kept burning. In the Tent of Meeting, the area outside the curtain that veils The Testimony, Aaron and his sons will keep this light burning from evening until morning before God. This is to be a permanent practice down through the generations for Israelites." Exodus 27:20-21 (MSG)

There is a light above our kitchen sink that remains on 24/7/365. The practice of keeping a light burning through the night was not motivated by any kind of spiritual reasoning. With teenage daughters often coming home well after we've gone to bed, it's there to help them not stumble on their way into the house. If we have to get up in the watches of the night for some reason, we have a light to guide us.

As I read God's command for Aaron and the priests to keep the oil lamps burning in the tent of God's dwelling, it struck me that there are parallel reasons with our little kitchen light. You need light for protection and safety. You need light if you're going to be active. What a daily word picture for the people of Israel who, at this point in the story, are still uprooted and wandering through the wilderness. The lamps in the night send a subtle, but powerful message. God does not sleep at night. God is active. God will protect and watch over you in the depths of daily darkness.

Today, I'm thankful for God who is vigilant in watching over me and my family even when I am asleep or distracted by the unimportant things of this world.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and tlindenbaum

Chapter-a-Day Exodus 25

The ark.

Let them construct a Sanctuary for me so that I can live among them. You are to construct it following the plans I've given you, the design for The Dwelling and the design for all its furnishings. Exodus 25:9 (MSG)

As I read through the instructions that God gave Moses for constructing this amazing portable tent of God's "Dwelling," the Ark of the Covenant, and all the items to be used in worship, I'm reminded that I am God's dwelling on earth. Since the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2, our bodies are become the temple of God. I find it interesting that we constantly want to associate God's presence with a church building, a temple, or a sanctuary – when God makes it clear in His message to us that old things have passed away, new things have come. He no longer dwells in a building made with hands, but in the bodies and lives of those who believe.

And, as I read through these exacting instructions, I'm reminded of what a special place is required for God's presence. In Exodus, the tent of meeting (a.k.a. Tabernacle or Dwelling) required time, work, construction, craftsmanship, sweat, toil, dedication, and obedience to make this place suitable for God's dwelling.

Today, I'm reminded that my body is God's place of dwelling. The same time, work, sweat, toil, dedication and obedience is required to make my body a special place for God's presence, and I should care for it as such.

I guess I'm finding time to work out today 🙂