Rev. Peter J. Haugen
St. Paul Evangelical
The glory of the Lord was once found in the pillars of cloud by day and of fire by night. That glory filled the temple, but that glory departed from the temple in judgement before the Babylonian Captivity. That glory did not return when the temple was rebuilt, not as it had been. And that glory is now found in Jesus.
And in this Jesus, the glory of the Lord came again into the Temple. We see it when our Lord was circumcised, when He was presented and Simeon and Anna beheld Him, when the boy Jesus confounded the teachers with His understanding, when the man Jesus drove the moneychangers out of the temple in holy wrath. The glory of the Lord returned to His temple.
St. Paul urges us Christians, “by the mercies of God, to present [our] bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God” (Romans 12:1). He explicitly ties this into the worship life of the church. This should not surprise us, given that the temple was the place of sacrifice. It is not possible to present our bodies “a living and holy sacrifice” apart from the church. It is in the church that we receive the mercies of God by which we can do this.
But it does not end there. We must go back into the world. But we are not to be conformed to the world, for we do not belong to the world. This means both that we should not live as the world lives, seduced by her fads and ideologies, and it means that the world does not have any claim over us, now or in the life to come. The world can rage and storm against us, but she cannot overcome us, not so long as we abide in our Christ.
For “we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually one of another” (Romans 12:5). Even more, our very bodies are “a Temple of the Holy Spirit who is in [us]” (1 Corinthians 6:19). And the Temple of the Lord is where His glory dwells.
This has profound implications for how we must live, and for how we must treat our own bodies. We are not at liberty to do as we will with our bodies, but we are “to present [them] a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God,” confessing in life and in death that we are united in Christ with our brothers and sisters… and with God Himself. So do not be conformed to the world.
The Temple of the Lord was both the place of sacrifice and where the glory of the Lord was manifested among the people of God, in cloud, in fire, in blood, in mercy, in Jesus. And now you Christians are the temple of the Holy Spirit. You Christians are a member of the body of Christ, a living and holy sacrifice to God. May God grant us grace to be steadfast and faithful in this. Amen.