Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "All Hail The Power Of Jesus Name"1 (Lyrics)
In our town of 8,500 people, we have eleven Christian church buildings: eight still active, one for sale, one already sold, and three without clergy. Obviously, in the past, our forebears felt the need to build all these churches in which to worship God. As most of us are aware, we've lost a whole generation of people who didn't continue their parents' practice of looking to God for their salvation. As a result, today, many of our churches are struggling to stay alive with small congregations of mainly seniors. Their buildings are expensive to maintain, and discussion ensues about the real possibility of a decision to sell them.
When this happens, many people are distraught at the thought of losing their church. In some cases, it is very traumatic for them and causes hurt and even anger. People continue hoping that their church will survive. After all, they went to Sunday school there, they were married there, their children were baptized there, and the church is full of memories for them.
From a human perspective, this is very understandable. We do become attached to things, and we don't want change. Unfortunately, when viewed this way, we are overlooking God's perspective:
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 hands. (NIV)
1 Corinthians 6:19 – Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? (NIV)
1 Corinthians 12:27 – Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. (NIV)
The fact is that we ourselves are actually "the church", and the building is just a meeting place to worship God. At some point in the past, when those church buildings were built, they were commissioned by like-minded Christians who had been meeting to worship in homes or perhaps schools. They wanted a church building, but had been meeting without one. God doesn't need buildings; He wants our hearts.
Paul states clearly in 1 Corinthians 12 that we ourselves are the body of Christ. Each one of us has a function which supports the whole, and together, we are the church. When we rebuild our churches heart by heart and soul by soul instead of brick by brick, then we will rebuild the body of Christ – the church.
Prayer: Lord God, we pray for those whose church buildings will be lost to them. Comfort them, and make them mindful that they themselves are God's church, which must be rebuilt, saved soul by saved soul. Give them the peace of knowing that as long as the people are still praying and watching and meeting for worship, the church of Christ is alive in their town. We pray this in Jesus' name. Amen.