There is a vast epistemic gap between myself and an expert homebuilder. I have never built a home, and never will. Were I give the task to do so, and were forced to do so, my "house" would look different, be different, than a well-built expertly constructed house.
Psalm 127:1 reads:
Unless the Lord builds the house,
the builders labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
the guards stand watch in vain.
Here we see the core biblical idea that God is the Builder, and we are the workers. God is Designer; we are his construction crew. But if we decide to take on the building on our own, and leave the Master Builder out, whatever spiritual house we build is going to look different, be different, than th well-built expertly constructed spiritual house God had in mind.
The sensibility of Ps. 127:1 is grounded in the being of God. From the nature of God, Ps. 127:1 follows logically.
- God is all-knowing. Which means: God knows all things that can be known. So God knows how to build "church."
- God is all-powerful. Which means: God is able to do all things that can be done. So God not only knows how to build "church," he is able to build "church.
- God is all-loving. Which means: all acts of God are loving. So because God knows how to build "church," and is able to build "church," the God-built church will be a demonstation and manifestation of his love.
- We are not all-knowing. (We don't know how to build as God knows.)
- We are not all-powerful. (We are not able to build as God is able.)
- We are not all-loving. (We will not build as God will.)
There is a vast ability gap between us and God.
There is a vast integrity gap between us and God.
Only a fool, therefore, would undertake building "church" without being in constant contact with God.
Yet, surely, this is happening all the time in churches. There's a lot of self-building going on. Only a fool would purchase and indwell a physical house constructed by me. Only fools would inhabit spiritual houses built by humanity.
I recently purchased Francis Frangipane's new book And I Will Be Found By You. Yesterday on our way to a mini-vacation at Soak City (Cedar Point) Linda read aloud one of the chapters to me. I'm now thinking of one of Frangipane's quotes, which reads:
"Let's settle this truth once and for all: it is the nearness of God that produces our good. Christianity was never designed by God to be sustained by nice people trying to appear good. We're not that good. We're not that clever. And we're not that nice. The only thing that can sustain true Christianity is true union with Jesus Christ. It is nearness to Him in all things that produces our spiritual fruit. If we are honest, we will admit that, apart from the influence and work of God, there is nothing morally superior or remarkably virtuous about our lives." (28)
Why do churches struggle within themselves? Why do churches struggle with what to do next? The answer is, I an increasingly thinking: Because they have yet to find the all-knowing, all-powerful, all-loving God and tap into him. If that is true, what can you and I do?
We can turn the tables on the self-driven church and increase our own God-dependence. We can do this, right now. God will like this. I imagine him saying, "I have been waiting for this day that you would turn to me with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength."
Next: get ready. When God builds, it is going to look different.