Things vs. People; July 10, 2019

1 Kings 8:27 “But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!”

For all of his failures, Solomon did say some pretty wise things. Here he shows that he knew he really did worship the infinite Creator, and that’s something we today lose sight of at times. Even when we do realize it, we have trouble figuring out how that fact should impact our daily lives. The temple that he had just completed was indeed magnificent, and the remaining foundation wall is an object of extreme veneration in Israel today. We tend to get fixated on physical objects, but Solomon had a revelation of the insignificance of anything physical compared to the Creator. That’s why the whole Bible emphasizes the people of God, rather than buildings and the like. This temple Solomon built was in many ways a distraction, because people tended to fixate on the building even more than on the One who was worshiped there. That’s why Jesus said, “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:23-24) Because we inhabit physical bodies, physical things are important and useful to us. However, it is important that we keep things in perspective, to understand what is really important. Too many leaders develop what has jokingly been called an “edifice complex,” wanting bigger and better buildings, when buildings are never more than a means to an end.

I struggled with the idea when we were being led to build this building, but the guidance seemed pretty clear. In the process we learned some pretty painful lessons, and I’m sure those were more important than the building itself. At this point in my life I am finally learning, as more than just words, that people are what is important, because people have eternal souls, and nothing else I encounter is genuinely eternal. I have always enjoyed machines, and was a geek before the term was popular. (I still react negatively to “nerd,” since that was the term applied to me at the time.) It has been a long road to realizing that all such things are ultimately insignificant, since God didn’t need anything like that when He created the universe. I’ve not been much of a “people person” most of my life, but thankfully, God is still growing and changing me. My interactions with people are the most important thing, because I have been given the incredible privilege of representing Christ to them. Like Paul, I am sharply aware of my own imperfection, but I know that God is greater than all of that, and He can use even me. (2 Corinthians 4:7) Jesus told us to “lay up treasure in heaven,” (Matthew 6:19-21) but the only thing I can take to heaven with me is people. I need to grasp, on the deepest level, that each person I meet is someone for whom Jesus died, and is therefore more valuable than everything physical put together.

Father, thank You for this Word. I’m not sure I’ve ever expressed it like this before. Help me indeed live it out, valuing people above and before everything else, so that I may treasure what You do, and so be a pleasing son and servant, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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