There are man-made churches, and there is the true church of God. In the book of Acts, the apostle Paul warned that after his departure some would arise from the church to draw away the disciples after themselves. And so it has continued through many generations down to this day – churches drawing disciples to themselves instead of sending them to Jesus.
The church of the New Testament was waiting on the return of Jesus. He did indeed come and take His stand on the earth. He is still standing here. And He will be forever more. When He came, He took the church to Himself for it was His bride. In every generation, He holds the church as the apple of His eye. Even today, He looks across the plain of the entire earth and sees all those whose hearts are completely His.
When Jesus did not return in the flesh, many disciples grew restless and thus began the man-made church we see today – just as Paul had warned. These people preferred a shepherd of flesh to a Shepherd of spirit. As Aaron made a golden calf for the Israelites when they did not know what had become of Moses, so the man-made church came into existence when some of the disciples did not know what had become of Jesus.
No one should have been surprised that Jesus returned as a triumphant king in spirit and not in flesh. For one thing, Jesus had taught that God is spirit, and that He seeks those who will worship Him in spirit and in truth. In his sinfulness, however, man is always seeking something he can touch just as a blind man seeks to feel his way along. Thus the world was filled with hand-crafted idols in the time of Abraham.
When you see the earth filled with places of worship today, you can know they are not God’s will. If it was a place of worship God wanted, He would have stuck with Jerusalem. Glorious as it was, however, it was insufficient for Him because He does not dwell in houses made by human hands. That temple pointed to the far greater reality of God in the midst of His people, filling the earth with righteousness.
The problem with designating a place for worship is that you have, by that very declaration, implied that there are places “not for worship.” Yet God wills to be worshiped in every corner of this earth He has made…and in every corner of our hearts. For this reason God’s Light came into the world, that no part of it might be dark.
Jesus said, “I will build My church.” Indeed, He has and He still is. Accept His call – for He is the cornerstone – and He makes you a stone in it. Therefore, if it’s a church you have to build, it must not be His. Yours is man-made; His is indestructible.
When you join the true church of God (by uniting your heart to the invisible One who made you and died for you), then you see how confining and limiting the man-made church has been. His true church is the kingdom of God, and it is everywhere in our midst. It is the rule of Jesus over willing human hearts.
Be His hands. Be His feet. Let Him love the world through you…in the buildings where you work, the streets where you travel, and the homes where you live. Don’t drive somewhere else to a designated holy place to serve an institution of man. Live where you are…for the One who stands in our midst…and be the church of God.