“Morning by morning, O Lord, you hear my voice”
Seeing Beyond Walls
(Please read Revelation 3:14-21)
Someone has published a book of pictures of historic church buildings in Colorado, and it’s interesting to look at the variety of architectural forms people have used in constructing houses of worship. Looking at them, one can imagine how we have come to speak of church buildings as “churches,” even though we know that churches consist of people. In a similar way, we may speak of “going to church,” when we know that what we really mean is going to a meeting of disciples of the Lord. Or we may speak of “the church at Third and Elm,” when we mean the people who regularly assemble in a building at that location.
In some cases we tend to assume certain things about a congregation when we see its building -– that it is poor, or wealthy, or extravagant, or close with its money, or possibly negligent or meticulous about caring for its building. Beyond that, buildings tell us very little.
We’re not saying it’s wrong to have church buildings; in fact, there are alternatives that are much less satisfactory. But let’s keep those buildings in perspective, neither taking too much pride in them nor letting them lull us into complacency. We must see past the building walls to the hungry souls who need the gospel and the poor who need our benevolent attention.
When the Lord issued his “state of the church” letters to seven churches, he didn’t mention buildings at all. Wherever they met, he looked past the walls and into the souls of the people. Souls, not buildings, should be the focus of our attention as well.