Mark 14: 61b-65
The high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” Jesus said, “I am; and ‘you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power,’ and ‘coming with the clouds of heaven.’” Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “Why do we still need witnesses? You have heard his blasphemy! What is your decision?” All of them condemned him as deserving death. Some began to spit on him, to blindfold him, and to strike him, saying to him “Prophesy!” The guards also took him over and beat him.
2 Chronicles 6:18
“But will God really dwell on earth with humans? The heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!”
In our small group study Sunday night several of us were discussing how easy it is for the practices of our faith, which are intended to help us remember God’s work and help us connect with the living God, to become gods we worship! We easily get hung up on things like music styles, types of instruments (don’t you know it is always about the music?), the way chairs are lined up, the sanctuary building, the types of prayers that are prayed, or whether we like the preacher or not. All along these things are meant to be vehicles that transport us into the presence of the living God! How easily we miss the point.
The tremendous irony in the gospel above is that Jesus is the presence of God wrapped in the Temple of human flesh, yet the religious leaders can’t recognize him because they are so fixed on the brick and mortar Temple they believe contains God’s presence. Jesus brings his Kingdom and omnipotent presence literally under the noses of the religious leaders. They can see God’s sweat, smell his hair, touch his hands, and hear his voice, yet they do not recognize him. They are blinded by their traditions, by their misunderstanding of Scripture and by their desire to stay in control. Sin has a way of blinding us to ourselves, a way of twisting our view of reality so that we don’t recognize God for God.
Those of us seeking to be faithful to Jesus must not abandon the essential practices of our faith (worship, prayer, communion, baptism, study of Scripture, relationships in community, care for the poor and needy, faith sharing, etc), yet we must not forget that the purpose for these practices is to connect us in a living relationship with the living God. Our practices of faith are not about church buildings or the friends we make or the preacher or the music or how much we like the programs for our children, they are about our love relationship with the living God.
God, give us grace to pray and believe the prayer of Solomon as he dedicated the Temple to you, ““But will God really dwell on earth with humans? The heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!”