by Cynthia Bowen
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Have you ever been to a demolition site of a house? Depending on the size of the structure being destroyed and the material from which it was constructed, the workers may choose different methods to bring the building down. Well placed explosives could weaken the supports and cause a controlled collapse of the walls. If that route is too risky, a wrecking ball and heavy equipment can push over the structure. Either method is loud and effective. When the dust settles, the resulting pile of splintered wood, broken stones, and rubbish would give testimony that once a house stood in that place.
However, there is another way to destroy a house--through neglect. If you've ever seen a neglected house, you know that it is one that has been left unused. After the occupants moved out, no attention was given to the maintenance. Soon windows were broken out and animals began nesting where children once slept. After a while, the ceiling began to leak and moisture caused the floors to weaken and possibly collapse. If someone saw the abandoned house from a distance, they might even think it was someone's home. However, a closer inspection would reveal that no family enjoyed evening meals together in this house anymore. What once represented shelter and safety for a family is no longer even safe to enter. It no longer functions as intended.
This bleak picture is much like the one painted in Scripture of God's Temple when King Josiah stepped onto the scene. Solomon had spared no expense in building the Temple as the worship center in Jerusalem. Cedar lined walls and gold covered carvings made the structure exquisitely beautiful. As Solomon stood and prayed on the day the it was dedicated, the cloud of God's glory filled the Temple so that priests could no longer stand to minister. However, over three hundred years had passed since that day and successive generations of idolatry had taken their toll. The Temple had not been destroyed by loud machinery, or even clubs and firebrands in the hands of foreign invaders. It had been destroyed by the silence of neglect from the very kings who should have been vitally interested in its protection (2 Chronicles 34:11).
This was the Temple that King Josiah grew up seeing. The Bible records that at the age of sixteen, he began seeking and yearning for the God of David (2 Chronicles 34:3). With relentless devotion, Josiah cleared his nation of idolatrous altars and instituted sweeping religious reforms and revival. At his command, the temple was repaired and worship of God was resumed in Jerusalem.
Today, God does not choose to dwell in buildings of stone and wood. Scripture declares: For we are the temple of the living God, even as God said, I will dwell in them and walk in them; I will be their God and they shall be My people (2 Corinthians 6:16). As believers in Christ, we have the honor of carrying the very Presence of God anywhere we go. However, with this great privilege comes the sobering responsibility of maintaining God's temple.
Like the bulldozers of the demolition site, deliberate sin has torn down the relationship that many people once enjoyed with God. As they hardened their hearts and chased the lusts of their flesh, their witness toppled and their Christian lives fell apart. Splintered hopes and broken relationships stand testimony that once a house stood where God dwelled. No one who meets these people will even think to look for God in such a place.
Even more sad is the neglected relationship between some people and the Lord. This person still looks like a temple of God. They may go to church on occasion and look like an upright person to someone who isn't too close. However, they have been too busy to give much attention to their relationship with God. Though they meant to pray and fellowship with Him through the Word, distraction and procrastination has cooled their passion for God. It wasn't that they wanted to walk away from God, they were merely too busy to walk close to Him. If any one gets near enough, it is apparent that God doesn't really have a dwelling place in such a life. The temple no longer functions as it was intended.
Today, the challenge for believers is to give themselves to maintaining their relationship with God. The foundations of their temple are strengthened by study of the Word of God. Prayer provides a safe covering for their lives. Fellowship through worship keeps a dynamic flow of the Holy Spirit surging through them.
Such maintenance doesn't happen accidentally. Deliberate focus on keeping the relationship vital is required. Today, I would like to invite you to lay aside all distractions for a little while and check out your temple. If it seems like God is far away, it may be time to get out your hammer and do a little maintenance.
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