How much do you care for God’s house?
Dear BPCWA worshipper, The recent passages from Philippians have shown to us the minds and hearts of Paul, Timothy, and Epaphroditus when it came to having a care and love for the church. Such an extent of interest and passion for the church may seem alien, if not even extreme, to some of our contemporary Christian thinking. To many, “the church exists to love me, care for me, and serve me. What? I am supposed to love and care for the church?” Some feel that online worship from the comforts of home is better and there is no need to be involved in the church. I would like to pose this question to you – how do you view the church? We often use the phrase covenantal family. If so, then the church should be akin to the family home! Is it truly so to you, or is the church somewhat of a transactional place to you – you come for weekly services, do the necessary duties, go home, and the church is “out of sight, out of mind” until next week? In many Australian governmental regulations, the church falls under the category of public buildings (which is all and well for it to be so categorised). Perhaps some of that secular “categorisation” has also subtly made us think that that is all church is too. Is the church pretty much like any other public building, like your workplace or school which you must go to and that’s about it?
The Church is God’s house. When Christ was on earth, there were places that mattered to His heart. In one occasion, Christ goes to the temple to watch the gifts that were cast into the treasury (Lu 21:1-4). Christ went to the temple in the famous scene and “cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves” (Matt 21:12). He termed the physical (public) temple with a very personal reference – “My house” (Mt 21:13) and “My Father’s house” (Jn 2:16). In the epistles, this term is clearly transferred to the church, where Paul refers to it as “the house of God, which is the church of the living God” (1 Tim 3:15). For BPCWA, then we must equate the building likewise – as “the house of God” and not just as another public building. If so, then we must have a certain care toward this church which He has put in our trust in our time.
We must treasure God’s house. When I mention God’s house here, I am referring to the physical place we are part of in gathering to worship and fellowship in. We are probably familiar with the concept of the universal church. It is made up of only true believers, while the local church consists of both true and false believers. The invisible church, not the brick and mortar buildings that we see around us with a cross at the top or on the walls, will experience the eventual rapture. Some may then think the local church is not of importance and is irreverent about it, even when worship is ongoing. On the other hand, when I was a Roman Catholic, church was almost like “holy ground” with some mystical aura about it. In the Roman Catholic church, certain rituals had to be performed before you went into the pew to sit, certain areas were only permitted for priests to tread upon. This is certainly erroneous thinking. So, we can sometimes swing to the extremes as mentioned above. We certainly don’t say that a church is not a church simply because it does not have a permanent physical address. Neither should we think it is the building and not the worshippers that count. However, we have seen Christ’s deep concern for the place of gathering for worship. Sure, the wrong practices were certainly what He was correcting. But the clearing out of the erroneous practices was so that there is a sound place of worship and can truly be called God’s house. God sent the Apostles to plant physical local churches in the New Testament. God has blessed us in BPCWA with a church building that we can call our own, come and gather in to worship Him, serve Him, and fellowship with one another in, and we should have a love and care for it. And this is what we must treasure, as part of God’s heritage for us in our generation.
We must have a natural care for God’s house. Paul said, “Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.” (2 Cor 11:28). Paul is not talking about the Universal Church but the physical local churches and its affairs. He said this about Timothy and himself, “For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state” (Phil 2:20). The state and affairs of the church were always close to Paul’s heart. Timothy had the same concern for the welfare of God’s church. To Paul, he had to sadly concede that it was a rare quality among Christians. Paul had a deep interest in various churches. Even when he was in prison, church was certainly not “out of sight, out of mind” and he wrote to different churches. This he did because he had cared for God’s house which is a spiritual home to believers. Sadly, he lamented that not many believers had such concern for God’s house. “21 For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s (Phil 2:21). Are we like these ones? Do we hold the church dear to our hearts? If we do not, is it also because we have little interest in the things of Christ, but are absorbed with ourselves and our own life? We naturally care for what we treasure. We naturally care for ourselves, our family, and things that matters to us. We saw the zeal of Christ for God’s house. We learn of the genuine interest and care of Paul and Timothy. Let us examine our hearts today and seek, by the grace of God, to develop such attitudes of love and care for BPCWA where God has placed us. If we genuinely take BPCWA as God’s house and the home He has put us in, we will treasure and care for it naturally.
God willing, we shall consider some ways we should learn about having natural care for God’s house in the next pastoral. Suffice to say for now, it must be really disappointing to parents when their children are so self-absorbed and hence have little interest, concern, let alone love for the home. Let us not disappoint our heavenly Father this way when it comes to the spiritual home that He has chosen for us, which is BPCWA, the local church you are in.
Yours in our Lord’s service,