About Jesus - Steve (Stephen) Sweetman

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Church, A House Or A Home    


My favourite Bible teacher over the last number of years is John Walton.  He is professor of ancient near-eastern culture and history, as well as professor of Old Testament Theology at Wheaten College and Seminary.   In his book entitled "Wisdom For Faithful Reading" (Principles and Practices for Old Testament Interpretation) he explained the difference between a house and a home to clarify his understanding of the creation account of Genesis 1.  You can purchase his book to read about that.  Simply put, a house is just a building until it transitions into a home when it takes on the function of being a living space for a family.   


Consider the Old Testament temple.  It was just a building, a house, but when it became God's earthly dwelling place, it became His home.  2 Corinthians 5:1 through 4 describes the human body as a tent, a house.  Your body is your present home but when you die, it's just a lifeless house in a grave.  The church became God's home when He came to live within it, as seen in Acts 2.  The church, God's New Testament earthly home, has also become our spiritual home, as Paul taught in 1Corinthians 12.      


If you are in the market to purchase a house, you will investigate all aspects of the building to determine if you can transition the house into your home.  When you settle into the house, it becomes more than a house.  It becomes your home.    


When thinking of church, do you view it as a house or as a home?  Is church merely an organizational structure that you have joined or is it your spiritual home where you reside in supportive and functional relationships with your spiritual family?


From my observation, that which we call church in the western world today is just an organizational structure to join.  It's a house, not much different from any civic organization in your locality.  It's not a home, a dwelling place where we find ourselves in supportive and functional relationships with those Jesus has placed us alongside in His earthly family. 


Jesus warned the community of believers in Ephesus that if it did not repent, He would remove its inner light (Revelation 2:5).  In other words, God's Spirit would leave that church, making it a simple shell of a church, and a shell of a church is not a valid church.  It's just a house, not a home. 


Revelation 3:14 through 22 tells us that the community of believers in Laodicea had already become a shell of a church, a mere house.   Jesus is actually seen standing outside of its door (Revelation 3:20).  It had transitioned back to being a house, and in this case, a house of commerce.  It was no longer a home for Jesus and God's family to reside in supportive and functional relationships.  From my perspective, this is the state of much of what we call church in the West today.  


I'm not discounting the importance of organizational structure in church.  The house aspect of church is important, but if that is all church is, then that is not church. 


You became a Christian when the Holy Spirit made His earthly residence in your very being.  At that point you were immersed into the living Body of Christ, God's earthly spiritual home, the church (1 Corinthians 12:13).  I would advise us all to think seriously about what being immersed into church means because church is more than an organization, a house.  It's a family home.   

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