1 Kings 8:10-13; 9:1-9
Solomon’s Temple is one of the wonders of the ancient world. It was a magnificent structure whose brilliant gold and white facade took one’s breath away. People would literally travel from all over the world to marvel at it.
In today’s passage we observe a strange mixture of responses from God toward this temple.
- God loved the Temple. To see the construction of this beautiful building must have brought great joy to God’s heart. Why? It was not because He really needed a boost in His real estate and felt that the tent was getting a little too cramped. No. God loved the Temple because it was an expression of love to God from Solomon and was an overflow of the giftedness that God had given Solomon. It would be much like the pride and joy that a father feels when his son builds a cool toy with the Legos he had given him for Christmas, or passes a big test that they had studied for together, or uses the skills that they had worked on for years to land a great job. In that instant it is not the thing that the father is proud of, it is the relationship that the thing represents. The thing is the fruit of what is at the heart of the matter. So, God loved the Temple that Solomon built.
- God hated the Temple. In the same breath that we say God loved the Temple we can also say that the Temple brought God great distress. God knew that the Temple could easily become a distraction to the people. Notice his words to Solomon. Allow me to paraphrase,
“Solomon, son, your Temple is nice. You did a great job on it, and I will be proud to associate my name with it. But, son, look me in the eye and listen carefully. This Temple means diddly squat when it comes to the heart of the matter. What matters is you and me and our relationship. I don’t need your gold or your successes. As a matter of fact, your magnificent Temple is like a tinker toy compared to what I can do. What I want is your heart. If, at any time, you lose your focus and start thinking that you’re better than needing to follow my simple plan of loving and obeying me, then you can kiss your little gold building goodbye. I’ll rip it away from you like it was made of paper. Are we clear? I love you too much, and I love these people too much to let something like a building and political power get in the way of our relationship.”
In our lives we need to function with two thoughts always present. First, we need to press ahead with drive and ambition to fulfill the mission that God has called us to, regardless of how big or little it may be. We need to work hard, with all our might to build whatever vision He has given. That is what we read about yesterday. Secondly, we need to do all that hard work with the constant knowledge that the product we are working on is not the point. Our focus should not be on the product and doing whatever it takes to make the product happen, our focus should be on the person for whom the product is being made. We need to realize that the mission is simply a vehicle, a discipline, through which God is refining our character and cultivating a deeper relationship with us. Too many times we, as Christians, have worked hard to throw a clay pot in which to hold the Kingdom of God, and then we have gilded it with gold and said, “Wow, I’m a great pot maker. Let’s admire my pot.”
What project are you working on? Has God called you to be a great stay-at-home Mom so that your children can have a safe, secure, and nurturing environment in which to grow? Great. Go for it. Do it with all your heart. But, don’t attach your self-worth to it. Don’t pride yourself in being that kind of Mom. Just know that you are doing what God called you to do, and enjoy the relationship you are building with Him through it. Are you an artist who is creating works of art that allow God to shine through your creative process? Are you a business man who is building a successful business with integrity in order to shine a light in the corporate world and raise resources to fund the ministry? Are you a teacher, a pastor, a farmer, whatever? If God called you to it, then do it with all your heart. Then let it go.
Enjoy the hard work, remain in the vine, and let the Gardener deal with the fruit inspection.