We all know that in the Old Testament God at certain times lived, or
maybe better expressed, had His presence in certain places. Examples of
these places were, the burning bush, a mountain, and most importantly, the
tent and temple of Israel.
The New Testament brings a new dimension to Godís presence. No longer
does God live in buildings made by men. (Acts 17:24) He lives in people,
both collectively and individually. The church, as well as individual
people are described as temples, that is, a place where God dwells. (1 Cor.
6:19, 1 Cor 3:16)
While growing up in an evangelical church I was told that the building
in which I entered every Sunday was the "house of God", and
therefore we had to respect this building. We could not talk loud. We
could not run in Godís temple. People could not sell things. So many
things could not be done because this was where God lived.
Now how do you correlate the idea of our church buildings being a place
where God lives with the New Testament idea that He doesnít live in
buildings made by man. Well, you donít. You agree with what the New
Testament says. God does not live in our buildings. He is only there when
we as Christians gather in His name, and allow Him to participate. Since
the Holy Spirit lives in us, when we gather, God is there by His Spirit.
Once we leave the building, God cannot be found.
The thinking that God is always in the church building, and the
building being His house seems to have disappeared to a degree. This was
the prevalent thinking when I was young (1950ís and 60ís), but not so
much so now.
So what has changed? Two things seemed to have happened in my thinking.
One change is that many have come to understand the New Testament thinking
on this matter. The other thing which I think has happened is that my
generation has lost its zeal for the Lord and as a result has relaxed its
thinking on many things the church used to teach, including the idea that
the church building is Godís house.
Really, the first reason for this change is preferable. Sad to say that
in my generation of Christians, many have sled into a relaxed, lazy, and
indifference approach to correct Biblical teaching. Along with this slide
is the indifference to any teaching whether correct or not. Because of
this indifference the idea of God living in our church building has
disappeared in many places, not all. The change in this good, but the
reason for the change is bad.
We should all realize that the intent of the New Testament age in which
we live is that God Himself, by His Holy Spirit can live within individual
Christians. When Christians gather together, and allow the Holy Spirit to
participate in our activity, then God is in the building in a special way.
Once we leave, He leaves to.