My wife and I did a little house-hunting yesterday. Now, for the benefit of my parishioners I should probably rush to say that we’re not going anywhere. We’re simply trying to decide whether we want to spend the next several years renovating and upgrading our current home, or find one that already possesses more of the qualities we desire. And if you’ve ever been involved in a similar process, you know that it can be both exciting and exhausting. It’s fun to dream about what you might do with your home; but the mere thought of all the hassle and expense that comes with moving or remodeling is sometimes overwhelming.
In the midst of all that, it can be a little too easy to overlook the fact that our physical home isn’t the only one that matters — and perhaps not the one that matters most. The Bible says that we, “like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house” (1 Peter 2:5). And so, God’s Word invites us to consider — both individually and corporately — what kind of habitation we’re providing for the Savior who longs to dwell both with and within us.
Enter today’s Old Testament lesson from the Book of Haggai (Haggai 1). Haggai prophesied to the people of Jerusalem in the days after they returned from exile in Babylon. And while they had done a fairly good job of rebuilding home for themselves, the House of the Lord was still a mess. “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses,” the Lord said “while this house remains a ruin?” (verse 4)
Of course, there are consequences that flow from neglecting the Lord; and so the message continues: “Give careful thought to your ways…You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the LORD Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house.” (verses 7; 9)
Have there been times in our lives when we “expected much” from faith, “but it turned out to be little”? When we expected guidance, only to remain unsure? When we expected peace, only to remain troubled? When we expected joy, only to remain afraid? Could it be that we have spent so much time building our own houses (our wishes, our agendas, our plans) that we have neglected the house of the Lord?
Of course, I wouldn’t want anyone to hear that as a plea from this pastor for people to invest more time, energy and money in the church (although the church is “a house” of the Lord, and is certainly worthy of our investment). No, what I’d really like us to consider is how our lives are becoming a dwelling place of God. During this season in which we sing, “Let every heart prepare Him room,” are we preparing Him room? Whose house are we building?
May we truly be a “spiritual house” today. And may we offer “spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5) as we ask the Lord to dwell among us in houses that honor Him.