The Church - The Temple for Gods Spirit
Often in theology the temple of Gods Spirit is defined in terms of our physical bodies
Of course this is a Biblical understanding when a person places their faith in Jesus Christ we are told in Scripture that the Holy Spirit Himself enters into us and begins a work of re-creation molding us into the image of Christ
When Paul states that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit he does so in the context of church people visiting the Temple prostitutes as was the custom in the Greek Temples of Corinth It is hard for us in the 20th century to imagine such behavior being condoned in the Church but it was partially, I suppose, because the people were culturally conditioned to accept it. Even as we are culturally conditioned to accept other kinds of unholy actions and need an external voice to critique us. That external voice comes through the Scripture and is fine tuned and fitted to our context by the Holy Spirit. At the beginning of Pauls letter to the Corinthians. It is the Church; the assembly of Gods people who are called "The temple of God"
- 16 Dont you know that you yourselves are Gods temple and that Gods Spirit lives in you?
The syntax of the original indicates that they did in fact know this or at least, it is something that had been taught. A translation that catches this nuance would be:
"You do know that you are the temple of God dont you? And that the Spirit of God dwells among you?"
How quickly people forget. But I believe the Corinthians remembered the theological fact what they forgot was the theological implication it is always the implications that people struggle with the necessary compliments to a particular theological truth. The Corinthians remembered that the church was the Temple of God and the Spirit was among them and within them
What they did not seem to understand was that such a theological reality has implications in the real world
Theology is not just a bunch of speculative teachings from a by-gone era
Every one of us here today has a theology some of it is good, some if it is not good,
all of it is imperfect but so long as we think of God; we will think of theology because
that is what theology is. Paul was a theologian
but he was more than a theologian, he was also a preacher it is the preachers task to take various theological constructs or ideas and show how that idea affects life and living. That is what Paul did in v.16
Earlier in this opening Section of 1 Cor., we read Pauls thoughts about division in the church we read about the incredulity of Christs body being divided and now we read the most disturbing part of this section
We read about God setting His face against those who would destroy the temple of Gods Spirit by their all-too-human compulsion to divide. For those who will destroy the Temple of God meaning in this context, the unity of Believers around Christ God will destroy them.
Each and every one of us pastor, deacons, board member, Sunday school teacher or congregation must hear these words of Paul and tremble as we look inside ourselves as we look at our actions and motives. As we look at ourselves and make the evaluation are we builders or we are destroyers? God knows what we are and Paul warns the Corinthian church that he will act if people do not turn from their sin and treat as holy Gods sacred temple -- the People of God assembled to worship and to serve.
The Church is Gods Temple The Church is the People of God
It is too bad we dont take Pauls advice here and do little more to strip away our wisdom. Human wisdom, which amounts to our self-reliance or our natural inclination to have things "make sense" must be subjected to litmus test of faith.
In all our wisdom, one would think that we would figure out that sometimes things are not supposed to make sense! Sometimes things are supposed to testify to Gods power; to Gods enabling presence; to Gods Spirit among us not our ability to make it all work out or have unlimited contingency plans.
David Watson says in his book I believe in the Church notes
This will always be the most attractive and persuasive argument for the reality and relevance of God: a sense of His presence in the midst of his people. (p. 124)
But such an 'argument' is not measurable is it? Such a thing cannot be dissected
and analyzed in laboratories of Wisdom
Such experiences rarely make sense yet they the core of who we are as Gods people and such experiences make the ultimate proof that what we believe is true.
I remember the day I put my faith in Jesus Christ, in fact I remember the very moment. I remember the feeling that Jesus was my hope. I remember the feeling I had as the Holy Spirit entered my fragile being and gave me real hope and joy
And so Paul tells us that it is in accepting the foolishness of God that we become truly wise. It is when we learn this simple truth, to give up our self-help and let God transform us; when we dare to become fools for Christ, then -- and only then -- will we understand the great purpose that God has for us in Christ. His People. His Holy Temple. United together in the foolishness of the cross.
The choice is ours to make -- to build or to destroy; to be a fool for Christ or Wise in the eyes of onlookers.
No one can decide for us but it is a choice with consequences. Choose well