Many years ago, I got invited to a neighborhood party. We were relatively new to the neighborhood and it was a chance to just be with people who did not know me. Their garage was full of people playing pool around the pool table and their driveway and front yard were both filled with lawn chairs as people just enjoyed the simple pleasure of each other’s company.
The evening started well, but then word got out that I was a “pastor.”
None of the people present were very religious, so I quickly found myself surrounded by people asking me lots of questions about what it is like to be a “churchy person.” It was odd really. I never had considered myself a churchy person up to that point. I just considered me to be “me.”
That’s when it hit me. I am more than “just me.” As a child of God who professes Jesus as my Lord and Savior, I am now also the residence of the Holy Spirit. Ever since the sacred death of Jesus on the cross when the curtain separating the dwelling place of God in the Temple from the people tore in two, I am now somehow, mysteriously, and wonderfully a dwelling place of the Holy Spirit of God! And so are you!
That doesn’t mean I am any better than anyone else but it does mean that I recognize that wherever I am, God is also, through the Spirit of God dwelling within me. It changes me to know that through my eyes, God is looking at the world. It changes me to know that through my hands, God is serving in the world. It changes me to know that through my heart, God’s compassion is steadfastly reaching out into the entire world. Thank God for the “Holy making” Spirit of God!
If you’re feeling a little down right now because the world looks like such a scary, or confusing, or disappointing place, just go look at the mirror. Look closely. You are seeing a miraculous incarnation of Jesus in the flesh looking back at you. Wave. Go ahead, wave. God will wave back to you!
That is what it means to be the body of Christ in the world. “We” are the brick and mortar church! NOTHING has changed. We always have been. We always will be. If you have given your life to Christ, you can never leave the building again – because you are the building – it goes with you – wherever you go – because God goes with you – wherever you go. The mortgage has been paid. There is no more debt. There is only a growing desire to please God in every aspect of your life. That is the growing presence of the Holy Spirit dwelling within you.
I still twitch a little when someone calls me one of those “churchy persons.” It usually is intended as a dubious title at best. But I also smile a knowing smile. Because I know it is no longer “just me” in this flesh.
That’s how my personal theology affirms (and down right insists) I can never, ever, ever be alone in this world ever again. Thanks be to God!