The Lord said to him, ‘I have heard the prayer and the supplication which you have offered to Me. I consecrate this House which you have built and I set My name there forever. My eyes and My heart shall ever be there.
I Kings 9:3
God was happy with a tent. A pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night reminded the Israelites that God was indeed present among them as the tabernacle moved with the nomadic Israelites. A movable place for a God who called them to journey towards a land of promise.
The Isaraelites were not happy with a tent. Once they had arrived and began settling into the promise land they wanted a King, then they wanted their God to have a place, a permanent place, just like the gods of their neighbors. God delayed this plan but in the end agreed to settle.
The House for God became the project of King Solomon and he made sure that all the treasures of the land went into building this place for God.
We, like the Israelites, want our God to be found in a place. Our sanctuaries have become the signs and symbols of God’s presence in our communities and have given our congregations a sense of identity.
As I read I wondered if we, in our efforts to have this ‘place,’ limit God’s mission in the world. Buildings are costly to build, costly to maintain, and do not have the flexibility of moving to where the people are . . . to where the gathering needs to take place.
Do we need the portable tabernacle again? Do we need to take the church to those that needed most? Do we have buildings to honor God, or so that our god has a place like our neighbors? A place that keeps God contained, accessible, and predictable?
Maybe its time for God’s people to gather and to ask God, do you want a house? If we hear carefully we’ll probably be surprised at the answer . . .
This article was originally published on January 25, 2011. You can read other posts on this Bible in 90 series at spiritstirrer.org.