Suppose a good friend invites you over for dinner. Because of their love, they prepare an exquisite meal for you. They set a beautiful table. A flower arrangement serves as an attractive centerpiece. Your mouth waters as you smell the hot meal being served. As your host prepares to delight in the the satisfaction of you enjoying the meal, you lift the fork to your mouth… and stop short.
Before you put the food in your mouth, you say, “this sure is a nice fork,” as you dump the food back on the plate. “I like the way it feels in my hand.” You notice the plate itself and say, “and this plate! What is that, china?” You spend the rest of the evening bragging on the flatware, the glassware, and the place settings., but you never eat one bite of the meal your friend offered you. Would you be honoring your host?
As we prepare for our first worship service in the new building tomorrow (January 4, 2015), I am tempted to spend the entire service pointing out the beauty of this new facility, rejoicing in all the hard work that went into its construction, thanking the folks who poured their labor into seeing the building become a reality, focusing on all the details of the structure, etc. If I did that, and that only, I’d be missing the point. When it it is all said and done, this building is just a plate; a plate on which we serve the main course, which is Christ. (John 6:48-58)
I must preach Christ. He deserves our focus and attention. Yes, he has given us a great building. I look forward to seeing it filled to capacity with worshipers. In fact a great meal deserves nice utensils. The best fine dining restaurants don’t serve paper plates, plastic forks, and Styrofoam cups. God can be worshiped amidst storm debris under a blue tarp, in a metal quonset hut, or in a gorgeous new church building. No matter the physical location, let us not forget who we have come to worship and adore. As we feast on Christ, let us not get distracted by the place setting. “Taste and see that the LORD is good.” (Psalm 34:8)