1 Corinthians 3:16-17 Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple.
The Japanese is much more clear than the English that the “you” throughout this passage is plural. Later Paul speaks of our bodies as “temples of the Holy Spirit,” (1 Corinthians 6:19) specifically in connection with sexual immorality, but here he is talking about the Church, which includes the local congregation. It is sadly not unusual for people, for various reasons, to disrupt or even destroy a local congregation. Paul says clearly that such people are inviting total destruction on themselves. The local congregation is God’s plan to nurture and train His children. It is to be effectively a nursery, a hospital, and a sheltered workshop, raising up believers to be warriors in the army of God, people who will accurately and effectively represent Christ to the world at large. That sort of thing rarely if ever happens in isolation; we need each other. That’s why local churches are so important. No two churches are identical, and no church is perfect. I well remember one of my seminary professors saying, “Stop looking for the perfect church. Even if you find it, it will stop being perfect the moment you become a part of it.” That is too true! Precisely because there are no perfect individuals, there is no perfect congregation, and we need to accept that. Each congregation has a different personality, so to speak, and different strengths and weaknesses. We are to seek God for where He wants us to be planted, and then we are to strive to be His instrument in building and strengthening that congregation. Far too many Christians are passive, consumers rather than participants. God is not pleased with that! When God destroys those who destroy churches, it follows that He builds up those who build up churches. That certainly seems more desirable to me!
I am in a relatively unique position in this, as the founding pastor of this congregation, all the way back in 1984. Its weaknesses can certainly be blamed on me, in large part at any rate. Over the years I have grown, and I believe the church has grown, even though that growth has rarely been in numbers. Our Sunday morning attendance has seldom topped 30 that I can remember, and is currently around a third of that, but we have sent out people to the ends of the earth, literally, including some who are in full-time ministry. I have sought to ground people in the Word, encouraging them to be open to being filled and empowered with the Holy Spirit, and some have accepted that challenge. I feel my responsibility is not just to this congregation but to this city, and I have sought to build up the other congregations as well. God is my judge, but my prayer is indeed for the fulfillment of our church vision of Omura again becoming the foremost Christian city in the nation, as it was 450 years ago, for the glory of God.
Father, thank You for Your plans, and for including me in them. May I indeed be fully useful to You in building Your Church, for the salvation of many and for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!