You've probably heard it, and maybe you've even said it. When my oldest son was a baby I took him into church with me until he was about 3 months old. Something about that firstborn, the idea of leaving him in the nursery (30 yards from my faithful pew) felt like the equivalent of letting him sleep out in the cold. Not because I didn't trust the nursery workers, but because I hadn't yet realized that a child's ability to breathe wasn't contingent upon his mother's presence. So, I was the mom with the baby crying through church. Anyhoo, one night after services a handful of us remained in the sanctuary talking, when Baby Boy dropped a bomb. I knew that at that point the nurseries would be locked, and there wasn't a changing table anywhere else. So, I changed his diaper. On the pew. In the sanctuary. And then I learned something new.
Apparently, poop is irreverent.
Now, no one said anything to me. In fact, the majority of those who witnessed it just laughed and shrugged, seemingly understanding the plight of a weary new mother whose breastfed baby pooped with impressive frequency. But, there was one look, one brief expression of horror, that told me what I was doing was not OK.
I wish the owner of that look still went to church with me, because I have a few questions. Since I can't ask her, I'm going to pose them to you, my faithful readers.
To what do we owe reverence? To a building? To a service? To the traditions of the older generations?
Changing a diaper on a pew may be disrespectful or inconsiderate to those around me, I'll give you that, but is it sacrilege? No. Does it offend God? I don't believe so.
"And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.
And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split." -Matthew 27:50-51
Let's work together here to stretch our minds and wrap them around this verse. The veil. A separation between the people and the presence of God. Their reminder that their sin was a constant barrier between them and God. Then comes Jesus. Upon the cross. The ultimate sacrifice, soaking up the entirety of the world's sin. And what happens?
The curtain was torn in two.
The great chasm that stood between us and God suddenly had a bridge. Not even a bridge, an expressway. Not only can we now approach God, but we can do it with boldness. With confidence.
Oh yeah, and one more thing: God no longer dwells in temples.
"The God who made the world and everything in nit, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man." -Acts 17:24
The building you worship in is just a building. Bricks, drywall, and paint. There is nothing holy about those walls. There is nothing sacred about the pews. Do you know what's holy and sacred? You. The believer.
"Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body." -1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Christ. Dwells. In. You.
Now, I'm not encouraging irreverence here. Quite the contrary. Anytime you go before the Lord you should do so with absolute reverence. But that's not exclusive to church buildings. It's in your prayer time. It's in your worship time (which should take place outside of the 30 minute Sunday morning song service). And it's in your one on one time with God.
But let's not confuse reverence with tradition.
|My severely scribbled in Bible.|
Tradition says don't wear hats in church. Tradition says women shouldn't wear jeans. Tradition says children shouldn't play on the pews. Tradition says you shouldn't write in your Bible. Tradition says swearing, gossiping, or flatulence (while always unacceptable) is absolutely heinous in the church. Tradition says you shouldn't eat, drink, or chew gum in the sanctuary. Tradition says cleanliness is next to godliness, especially where the church building is concerned.
I say, forget all of that. Because all of it is irrelevant, and quite honestly irreverent, when it stands alone. None of it matters, if your heart isn't right. I don't believe anything outward is as important to God as what's going on inwardly. Reverence in dress and attitude and behavior should be an overflow of a reverent heart, not a desire to satisfy church lady etiquette.
Christ is alive in you. Dwelling within you. You, my friend, are the only temple that needs to be treated as sacred. We need to get our focus off of buildings and back onto God. If we could just grasp the significance of these verses, I believe it would truly rock our worlds. I believe it would radically change the way we view worship. And it would show us just how important it is that we have a direct line to God. Open access. All the time. That's huge!
Do you believe we should observe these traditions? Or are they just distractions? Do you write in your Bible? Wear jeans to church? Chew gum in the sanctuary?