Monday, February 01, 2016

Identity in Christ- 59 (Temple)

Since the time of the Fall, people have sought a connection with the supernatural. Most often, since, they did not want it on God's terms, they sought it on their terms. So, they were not very successful as a result.

Quite often, people invented a pantheon of gods, and picked their favorites. And they sought to magnify their favorites.  So, they built temples to demonstrate to others how great the god they served was. (Of course, it also helped to keep that god on their side. "Look at this magnificent temple we built for you. You need to be good to us. Protect us. Feed us. Make us happy. Make us all rich.")

A temple is a monument to a god. Like any monument, it shows the worth and value of the object to which it is dedicated.

There is a temple being built for Jesus. It is not being built from wood, stone, steel, precious metals, or precious stones. It is being built from precious lives. If you have given your allegiance to Jesus, you are a part of his temple.

◆ God's Perspective

God is the creator of beauty, so it is not that he does not appreciate the wonders of the world.  I am sure that God no doubt delights in the Taj Mahal, the Haggia Sophia, Stonehenge  (Carhenge?) -- but his real delight is in the lives of his children.

It is in their lives that he sees real beauty. People were designed to live out their lives, demonstrating the nature of God. The person of Jesus, the traits of love, and the fruit of the Spirit all describe how people should be. So, as God restores his image in his children, his temple begins to grow, to become more beautiful,  to be more of a demonstration of God's nature.

It is not just one person, it is all of us. We were designed with painstaking patience, and exquisite care. We were shaped for just the niche we are placed in. Each stone has been designed to fit its niche perfectly. Each stone has been designed with the total structure in mind.

I am not saying we all fit perfectly now. We absolutely do not.  Sin has marred the stones. There are too many cracks, too many rough edges, and too many pieces chipped off.

God is restoring each stone, so it will fit perfectly within the temple, to  make it the most beautiful structure ever.

◆ Living My Life

A follower of Jesus has multiple emphases: 
    1. Relationship with the Father.
    2. Healing brokenness, and restoring his image.
    3. Filling the place where he puts us.

Each of these intermingle and interact. Connecting in relationship allows a flow of grace and love to fill our hearts, bringing healing. Healing allows us to express our purposes and identities in Christ, filling our places more fully. Filling our places requires moving over new ground, which requires greater connection to the Father,  which requires a greater relationship.

If we continued further,  we would no doubt find that each emphasis flows into the others. A breakdown in one area results in a breakdown in the other areas. An increase in one results in an increase in the others.

A follower of Jesus must pursue all of the areas.

There are different strategies of prayer, reading,  and meditation that affect our relationship.  We ought to follow what helps,  ignore what does not,  but be open to change.

We need to be alert and humble. No one is perfect,  and reproof for wrongs we do can come through a number of avenues: our connection with God, Scriptures, and other people ... those who follow God, and those who do not.

We need to be prepared to follow multiple paths that lead to growth. Some may require individual discipline. Some may require healing directly from God's hand.

We need to find our place.  Again, there are many different ways.  People have developed tests and surveys. Churches have positions and roles to fill. Or we may get an inspiration on our own.

We need to remember that we do not walk alone. We are part of a family,  a Kingdom. We are living stones,  intended to fit into a larger monument. Our relationship,  growth and place should fit into the overall purposes of God. They should also fit into the life of the local family of God we are aligned with. (And that local family ought to fit within God's overall purposes too.) There should be ones we partner with. But God intends that no child of his should walk alone.

As a final reminder, we are also in active partnership with the Father. He intends we all will receive support, direction, and encouragement from him. Each of us needs to recognize, receive, rely on, and respond to that voice in our hearts.

All of these steps are in active participation and cooperation with the Father to build his temple. We are his temple. We are fellow-builders of his temple.

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