Updated: Feb 3
Jesus never went to where the lepers, insane, blind, lame, etc. people were, saying, “Follow me gang! We are going to force our way into the Temple!” They were deemed sinners and sinners were not allowed in that sanctuary, nor the synagogues. Instead, Jesus healed those who had faith in him (their faith actually healed themselves), so they could be without sin and go and openly practice their religion.
That then becomes the model for the Christian church. Jesus Christ appears in the form of an Apostle, who are those filled with the Holy Spirit. Those then HEAL the sinners of their sin (let their faith held in others allow them to heal themselves of their sin), so they can freely go into holy places without shame, guilt, or causing hatred. The premise is simple: Tag, you’re it. Pass it along.
Of course, the problem we have today is NOT simply an issue of maintaining the holiness of buildings, keeping sinners out because the Law says sinners are forbidden entry. The problem is first finding ANYONE who truly has the Holy Spirit in them, as demonstrated by faith healing. After that the problem is finding EVERYONE else who is a sinner with faith, wanting to be sin free (not absolved by Law), so their faith can be led to bring about a healing epiphany within themselves.
Christians of the 21st century have lost touch with what a “church” is and what it means to BE a sanctuary for God. Jesus said, “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” (Matthew 18:21) This definition of a “church” has been largely misunderstood. It does not means that a special building – one called a “church,” one following specific designs of architecture, and/or one approved of tax exempt status by a government – as some fixed structure that limits “where two or three gather,” who believe Jesus is the Christ. This makes a “church” not only be mobile, but much more actively “in session.”
When Jesus said, “there I am with them,” this is a statement of truth, about the presence of the Holy Spirit. Certainly, the Holy Spirit is the least understood aspect of the Trinity, such that many (if not most) people proclaiming to be Christian cannot properly explain it – including many priests, pastors, preachers and ministers. However, when Jesus said, “there I AM with them,” he said those “two or three” gathered ARE Jesus reincarnated, as the Apostles of Christ who become Apostles of Christ through receipt of God in their hearts, which placed the mind of Christ inside their heads. Thus, the Holy Spirit is the link between Father (Divine) and Son (Matter), where both are joined as One Holy Spirit in One Holy Body. As such, the “two or three” gathered have the Spirit that makes them Jesus (“in my name”) be “with them,” as part of them and not external to them.
I remember a leader of a large denominational church explaining to a study group about why people were supposed to bow when approaching the altar, during a service or at other times. He said this was because of the presence of Christ in the little box where the wafers were kept (the host). He went on to tell how the wafers still had Christ with them, because the priest had prayed and called Jesus to join with a cupful of little industrialized discs of cracker meal, for people to eat, so they can then have Jesus in their bellies. One bows to the presence of Christ in crackers upon the altar.
That is not how the Holy Spirit places God in one’s heart and Christ in one’s mind. Jesus is not “with” us as an external anything – not in a wafer to eat and not in a church building pew. Faith in Christ makes it possible for the Holy Spirit to come upon an individual who loves the Lord and believes all things are possible, through Christ. Faith leads one to do individual acts that are Jesus-like, out of love of God; and this, in turn, is known by God and Christ. Those acts are less appreciated when done only in a “house of God,” instead getting more merit when done in the outside world.
Those good deeds and faithful works are like a “house cleaning,” which prepares the individual to allow God to take up residence in one’s heart, with Christ “subletting” the cranial cavity. On “move-in” day, the individual’s name tag changes from whatever everyone knew them as before, to a newly born “Jesus,” regardless of one’s gender. On “move-in” day, the body of the individual is healed of its sins, such that “Jesus” no longer allows sin in that bodily form. Whatever claims the material realm had on that body are then forever-on released. One’s body becomes the Temple of the soul, built of reborn flesh, such that the presence of the Holy Spirit makes one person become a sanctuary of Christ – where no sinful people are allowed (not even a visitation by the old self).
It must be noted that many times the leaders of the Temple and the Pharisees of the synagogues were angered by the presence of Jesus in their “houses” of holiness. Several times they actually attempted to harm Jesus directly, while mostly they plotted to kill him secretly. While obviously diseased people, and those with clear deformities and maladies, were kept out of holy places, there were laws about coming in contact with those who were sin-free. For a “clean” Jew to even touch one of the “unclean,” rituals of purification were demanded, BEFORE a Jew in good standing was allowed to gather with others who were “washed clean” of their sins. Still, the Pharisees AND ordinary Jews were just as full of sins as those outcast, only their sins were not so obviously seen. So, despite all the efforts to keep the houses of the holy free of sinners … that failed to work out as planned. That points out how a building cannot and will not make one cease sinning or be made whole.
YOU are what you believe; and you are free to believe in anything you want. There is no commandment from God that tells you who you should like, love, or hang out with. However, as Benny Franklin once published, “If you lie down with dogs you wake up with fleas,” which means you have to choose: Do I take the hard road to salvation, knowing few will walk that road with me? or, Do I take the path of least resistance, where the crowds of sinners make it easy to blend in and find comfort in numbers?
Being truly filled with the Holy Spirit is (most especially these days) a lonely road traveled. That is why it only takes meeting “two or three” who are of like heart and like mind, to have a “church” service, discussing Scripture, sharing miraculous experiences, and offering words of support and encouragement. The New Testament is mostly letters from Apostles doing just this. Still, when one marries someone of the opposite sex, who is likewise seeking the Holy Spirit or so filled, so that couple can bear children, whose upbringing can be to prepare them for their own lives of devotion to God and Christ, then one has not only built a bodily temple to the LORD, but a ready-made church where all the members are Jesus, in Spirit.