Haggai 2:1–9, Matthew 16:13–20
There is a lot of hand-wringing about the demise of the church. To put things in perspective, it is often better to read the Old Testament than the New. Yet people often skip all the prophets because it appears so dark and heart-wrenching. It is.
God’s sadness, anger, jealousy, loss are all there in those pages. The hearts of the prophets are there, too. God and prophets yearning for the people to fully return to God.
As the church looks around and sees its influence diminishing, and churches closing, and people leaving the church, and then the faith, it would seem that all is lost. The shininess is all gone, now.
The temple was once big and shiny. It had lots of beautiful things. It had lots of worshippers and visitors. It had lots of priests. It didn’t last long. The church, on the other hand, has had a long run of it. Perhaps, just perhaps, it’s time for us to dispense with the shiny.
Haggai’s message was that a shiny temple didn’t mean that God wasn’t present. In fact, God’s presence has nothing to do with the shiny temple.
Jesus’ disciples didn’t have a shiny place. While they were tolerated, they were allowed to worship at the temple, but eventually (over time) that became dangerous. They couldn’t gather at they synagogues, either. They could only gather in private homes. The gatherings were about Jesus, not the place, just as the Jewish gatherings should have been about God, not the place.
1)When you think about the “state” of the “church”, what do you feel?
2) When others comment or make a declaration about the “bad” state of the church, how do you respond?
3) Do you think your responses are based more on you, or on God?