On Monday we looked at God’s solution to the world’s problems, as it spreads from, and then affects, one person at a time. This is, of course, the Spirit empowered sharing of the message of Jesus to broken people who need it.
Here’s a passage from Gordon Fee’s book God’s Empowering Presence (on page 116!) which takes us further in the same direction, but also brings in the truth of the Church (that is, the believers in any given area meeting together and living life together) as an essential part of God’s solution. He’s reflecting on Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church, chapter 3, verses 16 and 17. Check it out…
As God’s temple in Corinth, they are intended to be his alternative to Corinth, to both its religious and vices.
In contrast to the “gods many and lords many” of pagan religion with their multiplied temples and shrines, there was now a temple of the living God in Corinth—and they did not so much as have a building; they were the building.
And in contrast to the sexual immorality, greed, enmity, and broken relationships that marked Corinthian society, they were the people of the living God, where God by his Spirit had effected purity, compassion, forgiveness, and love.
What made them God’s alternative, his temple in Corinth, was his own presence in and among them. By his Spirit the living God had made his abode in Corinth itself!
We may hit these ideas in a study Monday night study soon. But think about it! Not only do Christians bear in themselves (so to speak) the presence of God, the Spirit who Himself preaches His message through us and gives it power to impact those we speak with, but He dwells in our church family as well. And that reality (and only that) is what makes church different from every other organization, however well-meaning it may be. And that is what God offers as an alternative to our society. Our relationships. Our families. Our common purpose, effort, vision, and love. We are the alternative.
Tall order, right? But then, the whole point is that it’s God’s presence, in the person of the Holy Spirit, God Himself (!), who comes and makes it a possibility…and a reality. Shouldn’t we learn about this, pray about this, press into this, and live it out, more and more?
…and God said, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Then Moses said to Him, “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here.”