It is that time of the year when we can feel the season of Christmas in the air. The reason is to celebrate the birth of Christ. It was the time when God dwelt among people. What a wonderful place it will be if God is with us! In his presence we have fullness of joy, peace, hope and love. We all long to have a little more of these in our lives. Jesus said he is going to be with us all the time. Don’t we love to be in a place where God’s resides? In the book of Ephesians, We can read more about God’s dwelling place and how can we become part of it.
19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. – Ephesians 2:19-22
If God has to reside in a place or a building, it must follow certain construction guidelines. Paul talks about such a construction which is in spiritual dimension. Just as in physical construction, Paul compares several key aspects of a building to make us better understand the significance and apply to our lives.
Foundation:The first step of a building process is to lay foundation. It is a critical step which determines the strength of whole structure. If the foundation is weak, the building cannot stand strong. Building a temple for God also needs a strong foundation. It is the foundation which the apostles and prophets in the bible laid. It is the foundation of Jesus himself (1 Corinthians 3:11) and in this strong foundation the whole temple of God can stand forever.
Cornerstone:In ancient times, cornerstone had significant value compared to what we know about its purpose today. It was used as a reference upon which all other stones are aligned. It defined the structural orientation of the building. If it is set wrong, all other stones are also set wrong and the whole structure will be in a wrong angle. Paul said Christ is the perfect cornerstone where all other stones can be aligned to form a perfect place.
Structure: In the past, structures were built of stones. Paul said that we are the stones which forms such a precious temple of God. This temple is the church of God consists of all those who trusted Jesus and living a renewed life. He removed all our differences and made us part of one family. We are joined by his love and bonded to form this wonderful place. It is not a building made with human hands, it is built with people and Jesus being the foundation and cornerstone of the structure. Bible also says Christ is the head of the church and each one of us are members of his body. Just as Christ lives in the whole body, he lives in the whole spiritual temple and also within each of the members. He is present in the temple as a whole and also in each stone (1 Cor 3:16).
Becoming a living stone: It is a privilege to be part of God’s dwelling place. But we need to be a living stone to be part of this super structure (1 Peter 2:5). God cannot dwell among dead stones. We were dead in spiritual sense and disconnected from God by our human nature. God by his unconditional love gave Jesus Christ to us to redeem us and make us alive. When we trust Jesus, we become this living stone which can be used by God. We produce fruits of with his spirit as an evidence of his presence. Do we have his spirit living in us? Are we alive in Christ?
Church of Christ:Paul said this was a mystery in old testament times that God will dwell in this way but it is revealed to us through Christ. Church is a living and growing spiritual entity which we are called to be a part. His presence manifests through the body of fellow believers. It is in this place God delights to reside in his spirit. Are we part of this universal Church of Christ and acting as a member of his body?
We need to be connected to a local church which is a representation of the universal church and serve the Lord and his people. Every member has a purpose and we all have a place to fill in this temple. Are we building on Jesus as the foundation and aligning ourselves with him as the cornerstone? There is no other alternative upon which the temple of God can be built (Galatians 1:8). When we move the foundation and reference away from Christ, we face a lot of confusion, disappointment and frustration. Looking at Christ will make us humble in our path and we can show real love and compassion towards others.
It is a wonderful time celebrating the birth of Christ, let us make it more special reminding that God dwells within and among us. This doesn’t mean that we are out of all troubles of life but we have a greater one within us who overcame the world and will help us to overcome. It is not only a past event but an everyday reality which we are blessed in Christ and we can celebrate this all of our life. Let us be a living stone built together with others and be a part of God’s dwelling place.
Photo Credit: Jeff Weese