[Sept 6]--So What’s Your Point, Steve? Part Three

Acts 7:44-53

We’ve been through both theories as to what’s the point of Stephen’s citations in his sermon. I think it’s pretty safe to say that his audience was already familiar with the stories of Abraham, Jacob, Joseph and Moses. The two main theories I’ve been able to find are: 1) God isn't confined to any geographic location. He’s perfectly capable of working outside even the Promised Land, much less outside a building. 2) You’re repeating history here. Just like your forefathers, you’ve rejected the Lord’s messengers time and time and time again. You even rejected the Messiah himself. And you’re doing it again as I'm speaking to you right now.

Today I’d like to focus a little more on point #1, since it’s something I think Christians are in danger of. And by this I’m not talking about just American Christians. This is a trap I think every believer in virtually every age can fall into.

What is this trap? Basically it’s a denial of the truth of vss. 48-50.

A couple of days ago I mentioned the book The Summons by Dennis McCallum. Seriously, it’s one of the best books I’ve ever read and opened my eyes to a lot of stuff. But here’s one of the main theses of the book: Every religion in the world, except Christianity, has three things. These are: 1) Sacred space, 2) Sacred time, and 3) Sacred people. By “sacred” I mean “set apart as ‘holy.’”

Let me illustrate. Do you think that Sunday is somehow more “holy” than any other day? What evidence do you have of that? Well, in the book of Revelation John calls the day of his visitation from Jesus “The Lord’s Day.” Historians tell us that the tradition of meeting on Sunday started pretty early in the church, with good reason. It’s a great day to meet together as a church body and celebrate and worship together. Sunday was the day that our Lord rose from the dead, so that’s a good reason to pick it. But is it more “holy” than any other day? Not according to Scripture. The Old Covenant had the Sabbath, but we’re not under that obligation anymore, according to Paul.

What about sacred people? Well, is the Catholic Church right? Are there people who are more holy than the rest of us? Um, no. We’re all one in Christ Jesus. Every one of us has direct access to the Father through Jesus. Under the New Covenant (unlike the old one), we only have one Priest, one Go-between that we need. Let’s assume that Billy Graham is a lot more mature spiritually than I am, and he’s done a lot more for the Kingdom than I have (yeah, and the the sun is hot and ice is cold). Billy Graham has absolutely the same access to God through Christ that I do, no more and no less. That’s why Paul could call the Corinthians--the most screwed-up bunch of Christians you’ve ever met—“saints.”

And what about sacred spaces? That’s the big hang-up with the Sanhedrin, remember? Yes, under the Old Covenant, they did have sacred space. The Temple was the official place to meet God. Not that you couldn’t meet him elsewhere, but it was special. But when Christ came, things changed. On Pentecost, the Spirit came down and moved into his new temple. The Church—and by that I mean the redeemed people all over the world--is now his temple, as well as each individual believer.

Under the Old Covenant, as well as every false religion out there, you have sacred spaces, sacred times, and sacred people. But not the New Covenant we have in Christ.

So what am I trying to say here? Am I against church buildings? Of course not. But your church building is not God’s “house." “the Most High does not live in houses made by human hands.” That can be both comforting and scary at the same time. It’s comforting when I remember and focus on the fact that God is here right now, living within me. I'm a temple of the Holy Spirit. It’s scary when I remember and focus on the fact that God is here right now, living within me. When I’m disobedient, he’s right there. When I say something unkind to my wife, he’s there, listening. And he doesn’t care whether or not I’m in the church parking lot at the time.

Father, you’re everywhere, and you’re living within me through your Spirit. I want that to be a comfort, not a source of fear. Please, by your grace.

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