…about the sanctuary

We found ourselves chewing cream crackers accompanied with cups of fruit juice when someone remarked in a voice spiced with a little bit of horror, “We are eating in the sanctuary!”

At this, the nine different faces sitting around the four tables joined together registered different expressions amidst silence. We were breaking the church rule which forbade eating in the sanctuary! If I were more dramatic, I would have screamed, “It’s truuuue!”

However, I sat there, still chewing. Then another immediately retorted, “Na those who have been eating here during discipleship, where have they been eating?”

I became glad I did not scream.

At that, we all continued chewing and sipping with renewed vim and vigor. The supposed persons who ate in the sanctuary while having a discipleship class were respected adults in the church, hence, our ticket! Actually, space in the church was already limited and the current construction to expand placed more constraints so some improvisations had to be made including the relocation of the discipleship class and our meeting.

I found the scenario quite funny when I thought about it again. If this were the Sabbath, someone may have given an analogous response to Jesus’ own in Mark 2:27. “The sanctuary was built to meet man’s needs and not for man to satisfy the requirements of the sanctuary.”

Yes, I am aware this would be enough to spark a debate but we will digress.

1 Corinthians 6:19 records that the Christian is the temple of the Holy Spirit. The next verse builds upon this premise by saying we were bought at a price – the blood of Jesus. This is one deep truth I am still coming to terms with. At the beginning of the year, I realized God was really sensitive about this.

“Imagine you lived in 1960 Ghana where eating chicken was a big deal and you find your one and only chicken running around your neighbour’s house after you used your last money to buy it just so your children would have a fitting Christmas meal. The chicken too aa, it does not want to return to you no matter your effort and your neighbour too is very glad he has a free chicken.”

I know but that is the picture that came to mind while studying 1 Corinthians 6:12-20 and hearing God speak at the youth camp.

The church building is always dedicated to the Lord God and hence there are repercussions upon desecrating or defiling it. No two ways about that and so how much more the living temple, the one God bought with his own blood? You. Me.

In our desire to keep the sanctuary holy, we restrict eating in the sanctuary so we do not litter, which attracts rats and other rodents in the long run. That would be an eyesore for a royal palace of the living God but what about those rats and little foxes which sneak into our lives to feast on the things we feed our eyes and ears on?

We say no social media in church and that is great, considering the motive and I totally agree. However, what difference does it make when I begin imagining myself as superman, flash, wolverine or any other DC or Marvel comic character saving my family or a nice girl I am interested in, even during my quiet times? The girl texting in church and I are no different for we do not pay attention to God.

Back in senior high school, we made a lot of fuss over two students who kissed, fondled or had sex in the chapel. But what about the persons involved, especially if they are Christians? They are temples of the Holy Spirit and they were bought with Jesus’ blood and have sinned against their own bodies because they have desecrated the temple of the living God, the Holy Spirit. Do we prioritize the sanctuary over their bodies (souls), also the temple of the Holy Spirit? With that realization, I know that is exactly what I do when I lust after a lady, maybe not in church but on campus or any other place.

This just got me thinking. We will have to be careful lest we hold things in an imbalance or place the physical sanctuary over the people who come to worship the Lord God. It is not just about what you do in the physical sanctuary but also what you do anywhere you find yourself as far as you are a Christian. We have to treat our temples with honour to glorify God just like or maybe even more than we treat the physical sanctuaries with respect.

The right thing would be to help our brothers or sisters to find the grace and love of God as well as the wisdom to be in the right posture for worship not only in the sanctuary but everywhere they find themselves since they are the temples of the Holy Spirit, bought with the precious blood of Jesus, not forgetting we ourselves may need such assistance. That is the church, a place where one sharpens another. For all I know, I may not text, eat (pardon?) or indulge in sexual immorality in the church building but there are similar acts I probably indulge in which may not be obvious to the human eye and do not desecrate the physical sanctuary but I run the risk of deceiving my self since in actual fact, I would be desecrating the sanctuary of the omnipresent  Holy Spirit who has promised me His presence everywhere I go.

Featured image credit: Pexels

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