There is nothing more moving then reading 2 Chronicles 5 where the glory of the Lord filled the temple. The cloud of God came down in the middle of his people and so that verse 14 says…the priest could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the temple of God. Our hearts swell at the thought that as we enter into our church services that perhaps God would come down in the same way.
What a great picture, what a great thought! The only problem with it is that it is wrong. This is not a picture we should have about the church today. In fact, this view of God moving among his people has actually hindered and held back the growth of many believers in the church today. More than one well-meaning Christian has come into church with the hope that maybe, today, God will come down and fill His house with His glory. Unfortunately, sometimes this idea is even encouraged by the pastor himself.
The problem with this view of God moving is that people begin to associate God only with a place. This was the case in the Old Testament. God dwelt among his people in the Meeting Tent and then later in the Temple. But, Jesus taught a different idea of how God dwells among his people. It was not a new idea; many prophets from the OT spoke of this new concept. But the religious leaders of the day would not hear of it. They did not understand the teachings of their forefathers and now would not hear what Jesus had to say.
The idea is simple and biblical; God dwells in the hearts of man not in buildings of wood and stone. So as we gather for church we are bringing with us the power and presence of God. So, why do so many come to church, hoping to be filled up? There is certainly something refreshing about being together as a body, but if the only time someone feels “filled up” or feels the presence of God is in church they are missing a key aspect of their spiritual growth.
Now, before someone begins to think that this means that going to church is not important, they need to stop and understand what church is about. It is true we carry the presence of God and that God dwells within us and not in buildings. This does not mean we forsake meeting together, instead just the opposite. Because this is true, then as we gather together with two or more there is a special corporate presence of God that is essential to our growth and health. This is why the Bible teaches us to never quit coming together as a body of believers.
The point is simple, if you ever felt that you did not get anything out of a church service it may have more to do with what is lacking in you then what was lacking in the corporate gathering. Those that depend solely on getting filled up in church so they can make it through the week, will tend to never make it past Tuesday! Instead, allow God to stir and enlighten you every day with His Word and presence so that you are adding strength to the Sunday service and being strengthened as well.