Do you care for God’s house?

Dear BPCWA worshipper, In last week’s pastoral, we saw how while He was on earth, Christ had a particular concern for the temple, the place of worship prior to the New Testament church age. He referred to it as “my Father’s house” and “my house”.  Today, the church is called “the house of God, which is the church of the living God” (1 Tim 3:15). We know that theologically, but it often doesn’t strike our minds that it means that Bible-Presbyterian Church of WA is, therefore, God’s house. If this is truly the case in our hearts, then what should that mean or do to us practically?

Care for God’s heritage. In the Old Testament, God gave the children of Israel land to form a nation. Within that, each tribe had their inheritance that they were supposed to take care of – not as their own, but as God’s heritage for them. “Thou shalt not remove thy neighbour’s landmark, which they of old time have set in thine inheritance, which thou shalt inherit in the land that the LORD thy God giveth thee to possess it” (Deut 19:14). In our church extension communication, we have also made mention of the fact that we today have a church building to worship in because it has been entrusted to us by earlier generations of Christians “for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Rev 1:9). However, as many of us today have not participated in the giving for our current building, we may take for granted the fact that we have a permanent building to worship at, and possibly not even feel very thankful for it. Since this building is a heritage from those that have given toward the establishment of the work here, then we should truly treat it for what it ought to be – a heritage place, even if it doesn’t seem to have the architecture that the world normally associates with heritage buildings!

How we should treat God’s house. With the above understanding, we should have a strong sense of care for God’s house. When we use the facilities in church, we should do so with the same carefulness as we would things in our house. Are we as careful in the usage of utilities in the church as we are at our own homes? Or instead, do we have the “public building” mentality, thinking that we should “use” as much of the water and electricity in church as possible so as to “save” on our own costs in our home? How would you feel if your children went around your house leaving the computer, heater, stove fire, and water running from the tap even if they weren’t using it? If we are careful not to draw graffiti on and carelessly damage or dirty the tables and chairs in our homes, do you feel the same level of distress if the furniture in the church is damaged or dirtied? Do you take the same level of care and concern for the carpets in church as you would the carpet in your bedroom or hall?  Do you freely scribble, stain, or allow your children to flip or throw your books around at home? I am thankful to observe our children often carefully packing our hymnbook racks after each service and this is something that parents do well to train them in caring for the church. If you or someone in your family dirties the floor in your home, are you concerned enough to clean it, or do you just think that well that’s fine, the floor is dirty anyway, no problem if it gets dirtier, there’s no need to clean it?

Caring for it as if it were our own house. I know that while I started off establishing that the church is God’s house, I’ve in most of my pastoral compared it to the care of our own house. I use this comparison because we don’t need to be reminded to care for ourselves. “For all seek their own” (Phil 2:21). “For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: ” (Eph 5:29). Sure, this verse refers to our spiritual membership in the church, but we are also reminded as members of His church that we ought to “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others” (Phil 2:4). This is a useful self-examination of our view of God’s house – and whether we really think of it as precious and esteem it highly. We pray during the Offertory prayer every Lord’s day that we will be good stewards of what God has placed in our hands. In the care of God’s house, this is the responsibility of every worshipper, not just the Session’s duty. We must remember that we have been put as stewards of God’s church and the things in it too. I understand that we do accidentally damage things – just as we do at our own homes too. But I hope that we will not treat the church with a “public buildings” mentality (not that Christians should abuse the use of public facilities that way!). This is about a physical building – that which we see with our eyes and which we use. If we do not learn to treasure what God has already put in our hands to take care of, how can we be trusted to take care of more? Stewardship is more than just about finances. It is about the care of everything that God has put in your care for Him and His work!

So, as we use our church each time we are there, let us treasure it as a treasure that we want to be able to hand down to the next generation. Every week, we see the next generation gathering inside or running outside the church after the services. We should also teach our children to treasure and care for it. Let us learn to be responsible and careful in the use of this place, so that the next generation may learn from our examples to do likewise when they become guardians as adults! Let us train the next generation from young to care for God’s house.

Lu 16:10  He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.

Yours in our Lord’s service,