John 15:5a – I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit. (NIV)
John 14:17 – The world cannot accept [the Spirit of truth], because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. (NIV)
This past week people were devastated when one of the oldest and most beautiful churches in our district burned to the ground.
Everything perished. The one-of-a-kind inscriptions of the creed, the Lord's Prayer and the Ten Commandments, lovingly hand-carved by one of the congregation's earliest pastors: gone — all gone. The hymnals, the hangings, the altar, the communion table, the church records, the instruments: all incinerated. Only a heap of rubble and the stone chimney, left standing like a lonely sentinel, bore tribute to the building's former existence.
How my own heart grieved for and with this congregation as I read the headlines of our local paper. How would they begin again? Where would they worship? Who would help them? Then God reminded me of something very precious and, oh, so true!
He and He alone is our true place of worship. He is our place of "refuge and strength, an every present help in trouble." (Psalm 46:1) He is in us and we are in Him. Therefore, we do not need to worry and fuss and be upset about many things, even those things which in our estimation are major! For as our Lord Jesus Christ said to Martha as she complained about her sister Mary, who sat at His feet instead of helping with meal preparation: "Martha, dear Martha, you're fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it — it's the main course, and won't be taken from her." (Luke 10:41-42, MSG)
How wonderful to remember that the One essential is Christ. He is at the heart of true worship. He is the One who makes His home within and among us: Jesus a light amidst even the darkest of sorrows!
Yes, buildings are important and certainly have their place, but Jesus is essential and, praise God, no one can take Him from us!
Prayer: Heavenly Father and wonderful Lord, thank you that You and You alone are the One essential in our lives. Encourage and remind us of this truth daily, especially in times of sorrow and loss, that we too might be Your light in the darkness to those who have not yet discovered their one essential need. In Jesus' name we ask. Amen.