New Creation: Temple of the Living God

Sunday’s Scripture ~ II Corinthians 6:14-7:1

This Sunday we conclude the New Creation sermon series by studying the last image that Paul uses to describe persons who bear within their bodies the effects of Christ’s resurrection.  Paul says that we are the temple of the living God.

II Corinthians 6 is not the first time Paul uses this image or name to describe – and encourage – the faithful.  In I Corinthians 3:16-17 Paul writes, “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?  If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person.  For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.”

We are the spaces – within our bodies – within our hearts – we are the spaces that God has chosen to dwell.  From the time of Moses God has claimed all humanity as God’s people.  From the time of the prophets God has confirmed God’s desire to make God’s home among God’s people.  And from the words of Paul we turn with great urgency and expectancy for the fullness of the resurrection – when God’s temple will be complete – when in resurrection we will be made complete.

As we wait for completeness, we become more aware of our incompleteness.  But incompleteness does not translate as worthlessness.  In our passage for this week Paul asks a series of questions, one of which is, “What agreement does Christ have with Beliar?” (II Cor 6:15)  Beliar, one of the various Jewish names for Satan, means worthlessness.  One might quickly retort that Christ has no agreement with Beliar – that Christ has no agreement with worthlessness.  While they may not have agreement, I do believe they share a relationship.  

The relationship is that Christ transforms worthlessness to worthiness.  This is the gift of unending grace that we receive.  Christ became sin who knew no sin.  Christ became worthless…that we would become the righteousness of God.

When I travel one of my favorite pastimes is to visit worship spaces – “temples” if you will. These temples – especially across Europe and Central America are treasures. So masterfully crafted, so ornately decorated, so completely…empty.  For the most part these worship houses have become dormant – “sleeping giants” within the landscape.  For whatever reason what was living and vital within them has gone out. Some might say this is an indication of decline. However, I say and truly believe it is a testament to the true temple – the temple we are and very necessarily the temple we bear with us every place we go.

My fear is that we, too, have become dormant.

We do not become a temple by occupying a temple just as we are no more a car by occupying a garage. We do not become at all. Christ becomes in us. God dwells within us. And we who have been dormant sleepers awaken to new life.

Temples are sacred spaces.  Temples are the spaces where the sacred and the secular meet – temples are the spaces where the secular is refined – restored – resurrected.  Temples are not buildings with steeples and stained glass windows.  It’s like the hymn continues to sing – the church – the temple – is the people.

We are the sacred.  We are the worthy.  We are the space in which God chooses to dwell.  We are the effects of God’s amazing grace.

We are the temple of the living God.

Prayer: “Christ is made the sure foundation, Christ the head and cornerstone; chosen of The Lord and precious, binding all the church in one; holy Zion’s help forever, and her confidence alone.  To this temple, where we call thee, come, Or Lord of Hosts, today!  With thy faithful loving-kindness hear thy people as they pray, and thy fullest benediction shed within its walls alway.”*  Amen.

*”Christ Is Made the Sure Foundation,” The United Methodist Hymnal, 559.

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