“As you come to Him, the living Stone – rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to Him – you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house.”
~ 1 Peter 2:4-5a
Part of my roots are in the Charismatic movement. In that experience, I was repeatedly encouraged to seek God for a “visitation” from heaven. As a result, I harbored the illusion that if God visited our church, He was pleased with it. I later discovered that God is not looking for a place to visit. He is looking for a place to dwell.
The pages of history are littered with the sobering fact that God is no longer present in the places He once visited. Go to the landmarks of past revivals, and you’ll quickly discover that the crowds have diminished. The joy is gone. The life has evaporated. In many cases, those places are but hollow shells today.
Why does the Lord leave?
For me the intriguing question is: Why does the Lord leave? The answer is telling: Because He was not completely welcomed.
He was allowed to visit, but He was not permitted to be head. That is, He was not granted the right to make the decisions.
Visitations bless us for a short season. But a dwelling place for God is something for His interest and His desire. Blessing is merely a byproduct. It’s not the prime product.
Contemplate this thought: If God “visits” a church, it betrays the fact that it doesn’t belong to Him. A homeowner doesn’t visit his own home. He lives in it. In a divine visitation, God will bless His people. But He will eventually move on and search for a home that He can call His own. Thus if the headship of Jesus Christ is not fully yielded to in a given place, the best the Lord can do is visit. He cannot take up residency.
Our Lord is in a quest for a place to lay His head, a place where His headship is operative, a place where He does what He wishes, a place where He can feel comfortable and find rest. This is the indelible mark that a particular church is in fact God’s house. Anything else is but a layover for Him.
Like any homeowner, God builds His house in His own way. If the home is His, He arranges the furniture the way He wishes, for He is the master of His own home.
The burning intent of your God is that all of His living stones be built together with other living stones to form His house
In this connection, I want you to imagine countless living stones scattered all over the earth. I want you to see innumerable living stones living their own individual Christian lives. I want you to see scores of living stones who love God, but who are isolated and independent of other living stones. Many attend religious services, but there is little to no “building together” among the members.
That is precisely the situation we find ourselves in today. And what is the net effect? God is still homeless.
The burning intent of your God is that all of His living stones be built together with other living stones to form His house. Not for themselves, but for their Lord. To be the house of God, by God, and for God.
“Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain.” (Psalm 127:1)
“From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” (Ephesians 4:16)
Jesus Christ did not die and rise again just to forgive you of your sins. He died in order that His Father could obtain a home. The Lord saved you and me for this high and holy purpose.
Without people who are being assembled together, God is a wandering, homeless God. And we are wandering, homeless Christians.
Your Lord wishes to build Himself into a people, and He wishes to build a people into Himself. He is after a building, not a rock quarry. He wants a house, not a heap of stones nor a group of scattered rocks. The Lord Jesus Christ is looking for willing vessels who will abandon their Western-style individualism and live a shared life with others under His exclusive headship. This is our high calling.
Make a home for the Lord in your life. Each day, give Him complete headship to arrange your life as He wishes. Then begin to connect with other “living stones” by building relationships with fully-committed believers who are interested in fulfilling His eternal purpose.
Excerpted from From Eternity to Here © 2009 Frank Viola (David C. Cook).
Originally published in Life Today with James Robison, December 2009.