As a homeowner, seeing a crack running through your brick wall can send shivers down your spine. That crack often indicates some deeper foundation issues that could require expensive repairs.
But could you imagine if those cracks were emerging because the bricks were actively fighting and pushing away from each other? While that may be absurd and impossible in your home, it is all too common in the place God has chosen to live.
Where is God’s house?
The Holy Spirit, the third Person in the Trinity, dwells inside every follower of Christ. In John 14:17, Jesus tells His disciples that the Holy Spirit is coming and “He remains with you and will be in you.” In 1 Corinthians 6, Paul explains how our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. The acts we commit with our body should reflect the fact that the Holy Spirit resides there.
But as we think about God dwelling in us individually, we should also keep in mind that God dwells in us corporately. The church is described as the body of Christ. This is more than just a metaphor to give us a picture of God working through us. In a very real sense, God has taken up residence in the church.As we think about God dwelling in us individually, we should also keep in mind that God dwells in us corporately. Click To Tweet
In Ephesians 2, Paul details how God has saved us by grace through faith. This salvation, that cannot come from our works, unites people who have every reason to remain separate. To picture our unity, Paul uses construction imagery:
So, then, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with the saints, and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole building, being put together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you are also being built together for God’s dwelling in the Spirit.Ephesians 2:19-22, CSB
What we may miss in reading that passage in English and as individualistic Westerners is the plural “you.” This is why I appreciate the “Y’all Version” Bible that translates plural second person pronouns into “y’all.” See how the passage reads now:
So, then, y’all are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with the saints, and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole building, being put together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him y’all are also being built together for God’s dwelling in the Spirit.Ephesians 2:19-22, CSB (Y’all version), emphasis added
With the foundation of the apostles and prophets and Jesus as the cornerstone, God is building us into a temple in which His Spirit can dwell. He is fitting each of us, as individual bricks, together to form the perfect dwelling for Him. God’s house is you, me and every other follower of Christ. That should give us a new perspective on church fights and squabbles between believers.
A house divided against itself
In Matthew 12:25, Jesus defended Himself against accusations that He was casting out demons by the power of Satan by saying, in part, “no city or house divided against itself will stand.” Abraham Lincoln famously paraphrased those words in a speech at the 1858 Illinois Republican State Convention. The then future president said the United States government could not continue while half supported slavery and half did not.
As the Civil War was famously “brother against brother,” church fights today are “brick against brick.” As God is fitting us together, we are attacking the ones fitted beside and around us. We gossip about the couple in the pew behind us. We shame the people in the church across town. We condemn the Christians who disagree with our purely political positions. To borrow from another biblical image of our relationship with Christ, we keep trying to split what God is bringing together.Whether we realize it or not, our attitudes and actions toward our brothers and sisters reveal our true heart toward Christ, their Savior and ours. Click To Tweet
Whether we realize it or not, our attitudes and actions toward our brothers and sisters reveal our true heart toward Christ, their Savior and ours. Much like the cracked brick wall, our behavior may be exposing the existence of some foundational issues. If He has chosen them, redeemed them, equipped them, and placed them in the church with us, then He has a use for them. Part of that use may just be to challenge you and I and better form us in to the image of Christ.
Yes, we should be as iron sharpening iron with each other, helping those around us to grow as a believer. But not every believer, if any, will grow through constant criticism and relentless attacks from the brick beside them in the wall.1Obviously, there is a distinction between differences of opinions and perspectives and someone who is engaged in outright abuse or open rebellion. Even then, however, we speak the truth, but we do so in love. The desire is not to fight. The desire is the restoration of the individual Christian and the body, but sometimes that can only come after sin has been confronted.How would our behavior differ if we truly believed and lived out the truth that our fellow Christians are fellow pieces of the beautiful home God is building for Himself? Click To Tweet
How would our behavior differ if we truly believed and lived out the truth that our fellow Christians are fellow pieces of the beautiful home God is building for Himself? Our Creator and Redeemer has specifically chosen each of us as part of His home, not because we are a particularly lovely or useful brick, but because He is a particularly lovely and gracious God.
Think of how ridiculous it would seem and how destructive it would actually be if the building materials used to build your home turned on each other. Now, in light of that, think about the way you treat other Christians.