|Volume 24 Number 1 January 2022
David Q. Fisher
Sitting on our deck, my head resting on the back of my chair, I looked at the blue sky above the trees. The blue sky, some kind of orange flowering vine on a tree and a hawk circling, God was being praised. When my brother left home, I inherited his bedroom. It was before the days of central air conditioning. Spring through early fall, I slept with windows opened. There is still a large American Basswood tree outside those windows and other trees in my parents’ yard. My alarm clock every morning was the birds singing and the doves, whose nest was outside one window, cooing. In recent years, a mockingbird has danced and sung on the telephone pole visible from my office window. When I hear birds sing, I hear songs of praise to God. I have always been awed by creation.
Standing on one of the ridges of Hawk Mountain in Pennsylvania and watching the hawks, eagles, and yes, even buzzards, floating on the updrafts, I am amazed not only of the birds in flight and the view of the mountain and of the valley below, I am in awe of their Creator. The smell and feel of the dirt freshly plowed when we gardened on the farm in Delaware refreshed my soul. To walk those fields with Boomer, our dog, praying in the quiet, watching the geese fly over, on occasion seeing a deer, yes, was to experience God. God’s creation is God’s cathedral as our son describes it. To be in the midst of God’s cathedral, to breathe it in, to touch it, to taste it, to truly see it, strengthens faith and encourages praise of God.
Reflecting on creation, God’s cathedral, causes me to reflect on God’s temple. God’s temple is the house He built, and continues to build, for His dwelling. Through His Spirit, God and the Son dwell in His Temple. Reading the Old Testament, I am struck by the awesome sense of God’s glory and presence in the Tabernacle and Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem. David is described as a man after God’s own heart. His Psalms impress us as the words of a man who experienced all the emotions, struggles, laments, praise and thanksgiving that God’s people experience in life and in a relationship with God. We are moved by David’s faith, even in the midst of his darkest moments. There are Psalms, such as Psalm 19, that express the praise of God lifted up by and caused by His creation. Also, David wrote words describing the joy he experienced at the house of God. “One thing I have desired of the Lord, That will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord All the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the Lord, And to inquire in His temple” (Psalm 27:4 NKJV). “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go into the house of the Lord’” (Psalm 122:1). The house of God is His Temple, His Tabernacle, where dwells His name, where dwells His Spirit, His Son and the Father. There is His presence and the beauty of his glory. Oh, that I might go to the house of the Lord, to be in the presence of His glory!
“Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:19-22). “Coming to Him [Jesus Christ] as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:4-5). When we are with other Christians, with the church of our God, we are in His Temple, His house, in His presence, standing before His glory. Notice the powerful image the writer of Hebrews envisioned of God’s people. It is an image of worshiping God in the true city of God, in the house of God. “But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel” (Hebrews 12:22-24).
We learn from the above texts the church is God’s house, God’s temple, God’s dwelling place, where His priesthood offers spiritual sacrifices to His glory. As I think about this, what strikes me is, well, wow! When I come together with other Christians I am in God’s presence, the presence of His holiness and glory. When Christians are together, especially to worship, why do we not see God in our midst? Why do we wait to see how good the singing is or uplifting the sermon? My heart is stirred standing by a stream and listening to the sweet chorus of praise the water plays on the rocks. Why is my heart not stirred when I am in the presence of those who are new creations created by God with the blood of His Son? Being in the temple God has built and is building with Jesus Christ as the chief corner stone, why am I not moved by the beauty of the living stones God has crafted and fit together by His Spirit through His Son Jesus Christ? I am inspired when in an old wood frame house of worship, simple and plain, or in a cathedral built by men to sense my heart turning to God. My mind and heart are filled with reverence for our Creator at the sight of a full moon, a chipmunk or a snowflake. Why am I not as inspired when I see those and am with those who are God’s costliest creation, God’s most glorious temple built with the blood of Jesus Christ?
If you understand my point, like me, you may immediately think about all the shortcomings of fellow Christians. They just are not that inspiring. I understand. One Sunday morning a few months back, I put myself to the test. As I sat before the church to preach (Yes, I sat), I looked at my fellow Christians and told myself, see what Paul, Peter, and the penman of Hebrews describe, see what God sees and realize you are in His presence. When God looks at His children, He sees His new creation, His inheritance, His holy nation and holy priesthood, His holy temple where He dwells. We see the cracks that are still in these living stones. We judge on external acts of worship. God knows the cracks are still there. He continues to work on the stones, to shape, to smooth and to fill the weak places. Yet, in God’s eyes, what a beautiful temple. God sees His temple through the blood of Christ, each stone finely carved, skillfully fit together by the Master Builder. Here He dwells. He has chosen to reveal His glory in His house. Oh, that we might see one another with the eyes of grace with which God sees us! When Christians are together, simply together, before a song is sung, a prayer prayed or a sermon preached, we are in the presence of God. We are surrounded by people for whom Christ died, by those God has called to be His children. What an awesome and humbling thought that we are the children of God! The Spirit, Almighty God and Jesus Christ are all present, living gloriously and holy within each child of God. We are in the presence of each other and in the presence of God’s glory.
It will take faith, learning to see each other as God sees us, accepting and remembering who we are individually and collectively in Jesus Christ. We are God’s dwelling place, God’s temple, by His Spirit through Jesus Christ. When we are with our fellow Christians, the beauty of God’s most glorious creation is around us, His house, His Temple and His dwelling place. Let us learn and know that when we are with fellow Christians, when we gather to worship, we are in the presence of the glory of God. The next time you are gathered with your fellow Christians, purposely see what Paul, Peter and scribe of the Book of Hebrews described. Well, that is, see what God sees.