Based upon the description of the First Temple, it was impressive. The structure perched on a hill made it even more so. Culturally, physically, and religiously, it was the center of the Israelite city. We are often amazed and awed by impressive architecture. If you’ve ever been to any of the nation’s capitals (state or nation), you have likely seen something that impressed you.
Our cities historically were built around some center point, but as cities have grown in odd fashions, often the original center is at an extreme end of the city as it expanded in a single direction out from center. Our homes also have a center, but perhaps that is no longer the case. There was a time where the dining room table or the kitchen was the center of family life.
There was a time when that seemed to be fading away. One of the blessings of the COVID reaction is that we may see a recovery of the home as the center. It is also just as likely, sadly, that this is only a blip.
The trouble with a physical center is that when it becomes too much of the focus, it can distract us from the real focus, especially when it comes to our relationship with God.
Paul alludes to the understanding that each follower of Christ is a temple of God due to the Holy Spirit being present in each believer. However, while he uses the implication of a physical temple to describe things, it is about the inner working of the Holy Spirit in the believer. This change of emphasis would indeed be different for both Jewish and Gentile Christians. Jew and Gentile were both very concerned about the rituals and practices of their former lifestyles. The change from external to internal was very significant.
Often, we focus on the external because it’s easier. Whether it is idols, temples, buildings, what have you. Physical is easier for us to interact with. The physical can also draw us away from God.
- When have you found the physical to cause struggles with your relationship with God?
- What kind of physical things could (maybe not for you) cause people to struggle with their relationship with God?
Dear Lord, keep our hearts focused on you. Amen