As he was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, â€œLook, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!â€
â€œDo you see all these great buildings?â€ replied Jesus. â€œNot one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.â€ Mark 13:1-2 (NIV)
Jesusâ€™ prophetic words were fulfilled around 70 A.D. when Rome tore down the temple to its foundation leaving not a stone on top of another. Do Jesusâ€™ words still speak for us today?
I live in a part of the United States that is generally known as the Bible belt. If only that meant that those of us who lived here were reading and living Godâ€™s Word in our hearts! What it really means is that there are more churches per capita in this part of the country than in any other! We have hundreds of churches in every city. Even towns with no stop lights have churches. (and usually not just one!) Most churches are not growing churches. They do not show an increase in membership in a given year. Then there is the â€˜working membersâ€™ factor â€“ of new members how many are growing in discipleship and how many joined so that they can check that off their internal check list?
Jesus told the Samaritan woman (John 4) that there would come a time when we would worship God not in just a place but we would truly worship Him in Spirit and Truth. Jesus seems to be trying to get us to put our focus not on BUILDINGS but on BEING His disciple outside of a building! If you take away church buildings, what does being a disciple of Jesus Christ look like? My pastor said one Sunday that â€œwe like to sing about â€˜When the Saints Go Marching Inâ€™ but God would like to see His saints go marching OUT!â€ I think he is right.
If we are doing what He taught we will be outside the church building because Jesus was outside the synagogue more than He was in it! Jesus met the people in their comfort zone. Jesus taught with parables, bringing the Fatherâ€™s love to the people in their daily lives. It was not church membership that made a person a disciple. It was their lifeâ€¦lived out in humble obedience to God and characterized by unselfish service to others.
As we prepare our hearts in this Advent season, let us be out and be serving.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of Godâ€™s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God â€“ this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what Godâ€™s will is â€“ his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:1-2 (NIV)