“He has granted us new life to rebuild the house of our God and repair its ruins, and he has given us a wall of protection in Judah and Jerusalem.” (Ezra 9:9)
Ezra played an important role in the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem. While the building itself was essentially completed by the time he arrived, there was an important task still to be done. Ezra came as a teacher and reformer, to instruct the children of God in His ways and His will and help them to mend their spiritual errors.
As important as a sturdy church building may be for any congregation, we must recognize that the Church exists in a much grander form than any temple or cathedral we could ever construct. This is the Church, as C.S. Lewis puts it in The Screwtape Letters, “spread out through all time and space and rooted in eternity, terrible as an army with banners.” While the physical structure of the temple had been successfully erected in Ezra’s time, there was still much work to be done in building up the “Church” in Jerusalem. As Ezra taught the people about God’s Law, precepts, and love, he was repairing a foundation upon which human bricks would be built up into the great spiritual structure that God continues adding onto today.
Like Ezra, we are all called to be builders. As we preserve God’s pure doctrine, we maintain the structural integrity of a lofty spiritual dwelling. As we bring others to the Word and Sacrament whereby they may receive the gift of faith, we see God adding new additions to this grand eternal building. Whatever we do, we must always be sure that our construction is taking place on the firm foundation of God’s promise that goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden – the promise of a Messiah who would suffer and die for our sins.
Whatever kind of building you worship in, whether it be a Gothic cathedral or a school gymnasium, you are a part of the eternal, invisible Church that reaches all around the world. Perhaps you have a role in maintaining your local church building as a trustee, a volunteer, or simply by donating your financial resources for its care and upkeep. While it is important to provide the necessary means for God’s people to have a place of worship, it is even more vital to the universal Church that we continue to maintain and build up the body of Christ through prayer, service, and evangelism.
Remember this the next time you are at a church voters’ meeting or discussing repairs and maintenance that need to be done on your local church. Don’t forget to discuss how you are also building up The Church by keeping God’s Word first and foremost in all that you do as a congregation. Don’t let disagreements over the upkeep of a physical church building tear apart the unity we have in God’s Church. If we keep our feet on the foundation of Christ and labor in His Word, we are sure to build a magnificent temple that will outlast the earth itself!
“Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:19-22)
Prayer: Heavenly Father, grant Your Church true unity in Word and Spirit. Give us the mortar to repair the cracks of division and strife through the diligent study of Holy Scripture. Bind us together as bricks in an everlasting building, that we may stand firmly bonded through every storm and strife of this world. Heal our division and forgive our discord, through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord. Amen.