Marvin L. Weir
God loved Israel and was concerned about His people. He gave instructions for the tabernacle and it eventually became known as the “house of the Lord” (Exo. 23:19; 34:26; Josh. 6:24; 9:23; Judg. 18:31). It was David who desired to build God a house (2 Sam. 7), but it was Solomon who Jehovah allowed to build the temple (1 Kings 6:1). The temple became a most holy place to the Jews and they were convinced that it would endure on earth forever.
The Lord, during His earthly ministry, found that man made traditions, politics, and materialism were squeezing the truth from the religion of the Jews. At the beginning of His ministry, Christ found money changers in the temple seeking to profit greatly from the items people needed for their sacrifice. The Lord then “made a scourge of cords, and cast all out of the temple, both the sheep and the oxen; and he poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew their tables; and to them that sold the doves he said, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house a house of merchandise” (John 2:15-16). The lesson had not been learned and the situation had not improved near the close of the Lord’s earthly ministry. Commercialism in the temple was still being practiced as evidenced by this scene: “And Jesus entered into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money changers, and the seats of them that sold the doves; and he saith unto them, It is written, My house shall be called a house of prayer: but ye make it a den of robbers” (Matt. 21:12-13).
The sentiment of the chief priests and Pharisees was expressed in this manner: “If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation” (John 11:48). Can it be that the house of God in the mind of the people is now considered to be “our place?” It made a difference then and it makes a difference today whether or not things sacred belong to God or man.
Before His death, Christ wept over Jerusalem, saying, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, that killeth the prophets, and stoneth them that are sent unto her! how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate” (Matt. 23:37-38). When the house of God becomes man’s place it is no longer fit for sacred matters! Judgment for the Jews who rejected the Messiah and clung to the Law of Moses and the temple came in the form of the Roman army. The temple was destroyed in A.D. 70 and left desolate. Instead of the Jews disposing of Christ, it was God who disposed of Jewish economy, the temple, and their way of life.
The “our place” or “our house” mentality is alive and well today. It is now quite common to hear those professing to be members of the Lord’s church to speak of “their church,” “our church,” or “your church.” More often than not, this truly describes the congregation where they assemble. It is “their church” and they are determined to do things their way!
Recreation, entertainment, and all other man made innovations come from the “my church” concept. The Lord’s church is to be “the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15) instead of the soft cushion of man’s felt needs! This writer recalls the North Richland Hills church of Christ (now knows as “the hills Church”) led by Rick Atchley boasting how the elders had prayed for many months before deciding to include instrumental music in their services. Their philosophy is that in their church much prayer will make instrumental music acceptable to God. It won’t! Man feels that in his church he can sing and play. God spake nothing about playing on an instrument in worship (cf. Heb. 7:14). He did specify that hymns of praise be sung in worship (Matt. 26:30; 1 Cor. 14:15; Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16; Heb. 2:12; James 5:13).
The Lord’s church demands a “thus saith the Lord” for all that is done in sacred matters. The Lord’s church also recognizes that the Word of God was long ago “settled in heaven” (Psa. 119:89). The “my church,” “our church,” and “your church” crowd have nothing but disdain for Bible authority. They reject a Bible pattern or blueprint because it makes no mention of their church.
One who is devoted to the “my church” philosophy not only makes room for the instrument but also for the fornicator, the adulterer, and the homosexual (Rom. 1:2627; 1 Cor. 6:9-11; Gal. 5:19-21). The “my church” believer demands that women be allowed to use their “God given talents” to preach, lead singing, or participate in any other leadership role in the church. The Word of God restricts women from serving in a leadership role in the Lord’s church (1 Cor. 14:34; 1 Tim. 2:12-14).
Today, in far too many instances, denominational thinking takes priority over Biblical thinking. Self-indulgence seems to be the only thing that most folks refuse to cast aside! The modernist forgets or does not wish to remember that Jesus Christ “came to seek and save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). He did not come to supply man’s every wish, want, and social need.
Since the Lord’s church is “the house of God” (1 Tim. 3:15), it is not my house, your house, or their house! The Lord purchased His church with His blood (Acts 20:28) and is therefore the head of His body—His church (Eph. 1:22-23). Salvation is found in the house of God and not someone else’s house. The precious gospel is the only power to save (Rom. 1:16) and it is not to be twisted, perverted, or watered down (Gal. 1:6-9). The Lord’s church realizes it must worship according to truth (John 4:24; James 17:17) while man’s church is convinced God will accept most anything that is offered. Such an attitude did not work out well for Israel, did it (1 Kings 12:28-30)?
May we learn not to trifle with God’s house!