Maybe It's Supposed To Be Enough???
Hang on ... I'm about to show how much I may not know about a lot of stuff. But something struck me yesterday as I was preparing for the "Serving God" seminar I'm leading at Westmont Baptist on Sunday nights, and I can't shake the thought. So, despite the fact that my Dad always said "You can either keep your mouth shut and make people think you're an idiot, or you can open your mouth and remove all doubt", I'll say it anyway.
The thought is this: when God told Moses to build the tabernacle, He gave thorough instructions; subsequently, Moses instructed the people to bring in all the fine stuff .. gems .. fine woods .. cloths ... gold .. all that stuff to him so they could build the tabernacle as instructed. And, after some period of time, he told them to please stop, as they'd brought more stuff than needed.
Then, Moses called in the contractors and had the tabernacle built.
Much later, Solomon built the temple. I don't see the funding method chosen, but I figure it wasn't a 30-year Variable Rate mortgage. I figure God had already supplied the stuff, as Sol was fairly well off, as I understand it.
But, regardless, it was appropriate to build a temple, as that's where they met with God. That made sense, as the instructions to build the tabernacle ... that portable tent-thing ... came at a time when Israel didn't have a homeland. On the other hand, the temple was built when they did.
So along comes Jesus and says that the time was now here when people would worship Him in Spirit and in truth; that answer in response to a question as to where we were supposed to worship God. I believe the mountain ... maybe that was done in the tabernacle .. and the temple were both mentioned.
Where did the idea of big temples, now, originate? Was it with "the church" way back when, before the Protestant Reformation? Aren't they a link to the old non-personal relationship with the mother church, rather than with the Living, Personal, Risen Christ ... our only access to God?
And I also wonder where is the NT example of building a NT version of Solomon's temple. I don't recall it, albeit my memory ain't what it used to be (and probably never was, anyway). So perhaps it's true that the huge buildings which we think "Glorify God" are our idea, not God's. Sure, we're commanded to assemble together ... my interpretation is for the purpose of prompting one another to love and good works ... but it sure seems that churches, when organized, immediately orient themselves toward building their own "temple". And I've heard some state that such a concept even works to the detriment of overseas missions, as we too often do some evangelizing and then build a building, which the overseas mission church may be ill-equipped to maintain, and may not help in their efforts to win people there, anyway.
I have been concerned about this for some time, check here, but I didn't really make the connection until yesterday.
So, a couple questions:
- Is the clear statement of how the tabernacle was funded, supposed to be instructive, to us, as to how we should operate now? Should we, in fact, call on the church body to bring in what we need, and then confess that's enough for us to do what God wants us to do?
- Is Jesus' statement about worshiping in Spirit and in Truth, given in response to a question about geography and buildings, instructive for us relative to building our modern versions of Solomon's temple?
- Should we pay attention to the Biblical statement that the borrower is the servant of the lender, and question whether churches should be servants of Mortgage Companies?
I don't know. I really don't. But I do know that our church has indebtedness of over Nine Million Dollars, and you can imagine the financial impact of just paying the interest on that, let alone amortizing the debt. But one thing I'm pretty sure of: we didn't even explore the alternatives.
Seems we'd rather ask God for a big building, than merely for a place to meet.
Maybe we don't want to be limited to what God thinks is "enough".
**EDIT NOTE** Here's where I stick my foot in it. Here we have the modern-day church, speaking here of baptists, millions strong. Mostly, apparently having their money struggles (like 15-20% giving 80-85% of the money?). Now, to me, tithing is a simple biblical principle, yet few seem to be doing that. In our church, given the number of members, and if the average income were about what ours is .. and remember, we're retired .. then the gross church-member income would probably be somewhere north of $50 million. A tithe of that would be $5 million a year and we'd be swimming in money. But we're constantly under budget in income. As I mentioned at Westmont last Sunday, the church has plenty of money; it's just that most of it is still in the members' pockets. And I frankly I wonder why that is. Why hasn't the membership gotten the message?
Is this yet another example of "easy believism"? Have we made this whole thing so socially appealing and attractive that we've completely lost whatever those folks in Acts 2 had?
That's my bet.
If so, who did THAT?