In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ I share.
‘Who is left among you who saw this temple in its former glory? And how do you see it now? In comparison with it, is this not in your eyes as nothing?’ (Haggai 2:3)
Especially in recent months and years, the church has seen a growing unrest, one that has made itself known in waves, both in the whisperings that happen in person as well as in the bold blog posts and discussions held on the internet.
Some of us ask, “How could the church do something like this to a worker like that?”
Others ask, “If the church is in the right, why doesn’t it say anything?”
Still others ask, “How can it be possible that the true church is like this?”
And how indeed could it have been that a temple built by the tiny remnant of Israel would in any way have greater glory than its predecessor, whose foundations were laid by Solomon himself?
Yet, ‘The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former,’ says the LORD of hosts. ‘And in this place I will give peace,’ says the LORD of hosts. (Haggai 2:9)
Though they were an insignificant people among a world of unbelievers, though they faced difficulty and opposition and trials, though many of them committed great sin and spiritual adultery even after the city Jerusalem was rebuilt, in spite of everything they had done and were going to do, God, the God of heaven and earth, the God who set the sun and moon in their places and the stars in their orbits, the God who created the universe, gave them hope in the form of a promise – a promise that the temple they set out to build would without fail be more glorious than the one that came before it.
The same promise extends to us today, if only we will believe that the God we worship is faithful and true.
Many of us look at the church described in Acts, comparing how things were then to the way things are now.
“They were more loving and united then!”
“They worked more signs and wonders then!”
“They were more powerful and fervent then!”
The list goes on. Is it true? Maybe! But too many of us stop here, succumbing to despair, sadness, and pessimism, when instead we should be filled with hope, joy, thankfulness, and the fire to serve as we look towards the future.
We are that same holy nation, that chosen priesthood, God’s own special people, and He has promised us that our glory will be greater than those who came before us. What will it be like? Who can say? But we know our God is good, that all His promises are “yes” to those who believe, that He never makes mistakes. Instead of looking down, downcast and discouraged, we should look up towards the author and finisher of our faith, deeply motivated to work even harder, without complaint, that His promise might be fulfilled even one day sooner.
And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body… (Ephesians 1:22-23)
When it comes down to it, the church is the body of Christ; how is it even a possibility that God would allow His own body to rust and decay? And if it is true that the church is the body of Christ, how is it even a possibility that we would consider leaving it or even distancing ourselves from it?
For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ… But now indeed there are many members yet one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” (1 Corinthians 12:12, 20-21)
I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser… Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. (John 15:1, 4-7)
Faith has never been, is not today, and will never be a solitary effort. It is not a matter of choice – we need each other, we need the church, and we are saved through the church, the body of Christ. We cannot simply choose to leave it and pursue a relationship with Jesus on our own, for how can we say to Him, “The head is beautiful, but the body is ugly; therefore I only deal with the head, and will have nothing to do with the body”? No! We cannot abide in Jesus unless we are a part of His body, and if we believe in His promise, if we believe in His word, then we will believe that no matter the problems we face, there will never be a reason for us to leave His church; though we are still weak and imperfect, but we will be made perfect through His grace, for His grace is sufficient for us.
So he answered and said to me: “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the LORD of hosts.” (Zechariah 4:6)
‘Yet now be strong, Zerubbabel,’ says the LORD; ‘and be strong, Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest; and be strong, all you people of the land,’ says the LORD, ‘and work; for I am with you,’ says the LORD of hosts. (Haggai 2:4)
Be strong, for glory lies on the road ahead.
Be strong, for He has commanded us to work.
Be strong, for God is with us.