I had an interesting experience today. A Facebook "friend", as opposed to a real friend, who happens to be a pastor posted this article about church sanctuaries that have been upgraded and beautified. If you clicked on the link you'll see pictures of ornate sanctuary spaces that are quite beautiful.
My response was to point out what a waste of money it is to enhance worship spaces where fewer and fewer people are gathering and that such expense does absolutely nothing to advance the Gospel. I hoped for a little conversation about how we Christians choose to spend God's resources. Instead the pastor deleted my comment and unfriended me. It seems apparent glorified sanctuary spaces are very important to him and dissenting opinions are not welcome.
Rather than mourn the loss of an online "friendship" I decided this was an opportunity to expand on my comment here and explain why, in my opinion, dedicated sanctuary spaces are an abomination rejected by God and harmful to the commission Christ gave his followers. Scripture is quite clear that at Pentecost the outpouring of the Holy Spirit meant God is bodily present in every follower of Christ. Further our bodies are the temple of God meant to be active and effective for our Lord Jesus Christ wherever we find ourselves. Further still this presence of God is to be daily making an impact amongst those in need in the world. Whether that's need for comfort, clothing, housing, food, or any of the countless other needs present in this broken world.
That over time the church has retreated inside buildings and invested literally trillions of dollars over the past two thousand years to deck out these spaces with gold, silver, ornate rare woods, carvings, artwork and more is a travesty. A careful reading of the account of David's plan to build a temple reveals God's rejection of such a plan. The temple in Jerusalem was rejected by God. The fact Solomon went ahead with it anyway...with the help of Satan and his minions (let him who has ears hear the truth) simply confirms what an abomination temples truly are.
God did not and does not want buildings built and assigned as his residence. A residence for God is a place we visit giving rise to our misbegotten notion God can be visited and, more erroneously, contained. Dressing up such spaces and calling them sacred make them no less abominable. Look at the whole story. Temple rituals and prayers were rejected by God as noise and a stench in his nostrils. We have simply recreated mini temples a million times over all over the world.
I'm not saying the church doesn't need gathering places. I am saying the places we gather are of no consequence to the advancement of the Gospel. God comes and goes with us, those who are filled with his Holy Spirit. If the gathering places are of no consequence then investing ridiculous amounts of money to decorate these spaces is an absolute waste of God's resources imparted to his Church for the sake of spreading the Gospel. The creation of God is far more majestic and awesome than any creation of man. I am pleading with the church to stop building ornate boxes for God and calling these spaces sacred. They are an abomination to God, a waste of God's resource and a distraction from the vital work the Church has been called into.
One final note. Where your treasure is there your heart is also. Pouring treasure into a worship space entices us to sit in that space waiting and hoping others will show up. They won't. Fewer and fewer people are coming into our worship spaces. The most ornate cathedrals of Europe are quaint tourist attractions but nearly devoid of worshipers and worthless to the advancement of the Gospel. Get out of your space and take God with you. Out in the world is where he really wants to be.