What an exciting time we are in.
What has been talked about for 6 if not 10 or 15 years is about to become reality.
This week, the stage will be set for the beginning of the building project.
I am excited about it and looking forward to all the great changes that will take place.
But not all of this is pleasant.
I was comfortable in my office and liked the location of it.
Now the upheaval of moving is upon us.
All of us will be impacted by what will be happening here for the next 4 months.
Those of you planning weddings have already been impacted.
Each Sunday, we will realize that things aren’t like normal.
Not only are changes an integral part of the building project, there are also other challenges that come with such a project.
I have heard comments or heard about comments made in regard to the project.
I have heard words that express people’s frustration with the process or disagreement with certain decisions.
How will we handle these things, which are almost inevitable?
Last Sunday at Jonathan’s graduation, the title of the speaker’s message was, “Where in a university is God?”
It was a good question and well addressed.
I would like to ask a similar question.
I would like to ask, “where in our building project is God?”
This morning, with all of these thoughts in the back of our minds, I would like to engage in a little Biblical thinking that I hope will help us understand how God is in the midst of our building project.
We Are Building God’s Kingdom
It is tempting to look at the building of this project as a human thing.
We are people, working with wood and steel doing something that we can handle.
But is that really what is going on here?
I believe that we need to see that the very purpose for our existence as a church is the building of the kingdom of God and the work we are doing is at all times a building of the kingdom of God.
God will be in it when we remember our goal and reason for being.
!! A. By The Project
The building project itself is an expression of the building of the kingdom of God.
When we look into the Bible, there are several building projects that were carried out.
Some of them definitely had the aspect of being a part of the building of the kingdom of God.
Ezra and Nehemiah describe the re-building of the temple and the walls of Jerusalem.
Both of the projects were written about as doing God’s work.
In Ezra 4, there was opposition to the building of the temple.
Some enemies offered to help, but their true intent was to prevent.
Zerubbabel who was the leader answered them, “We alone will build it for the Lord.”
The emphasis is on their doing it alone, but notice the other message in that statement.
They were building it “for the Lord.”
In the building of the wall described in Nehemiah 2:20, Nehemiah was also opposed by enemies.
When they mocked what the people were trying to do, Nehemiah responded, “The God of heaven will give us success.”
In both of these stories, it is obvious that they saw what they were doing as obedience to God and a part of the building of God’s kingdom.
Do we see the building of this addition as God directed and a part of building His kingdom or do we see it as an expression of self indulgence?
We have prayed about this, sought God’s leading, explored and thought things through.
I believe that when we consider the value of the things we are trying to accomplish and the way in which we have now come together on this project we can understand that putting up this building is an expression of building God’s kingdom.
I look forward to the day when we will be able to have a fellowship meal to celebrate, to the day we will have an event in the basement and not watch someone walk out the door because they can’t get down the stairs, and to be able to provide a pleasant environment to minister to a grieving family while they wait for the funeral of their loved one.
These are all aspects of loving, teaching and, in short, building the kingdom of God.
Not only is the building itself a way of building the kingdom of God, but the process can provide great opportunities for building God’s kingdom.
As we work together and interact with others who will come to work on the building, we will have opportunities to get to know each other, to encourage each other, to minister to others and so to build the kingdom of God.
I read about the Indonesian Christian Church on the West Coast.
One of the people involved in their building project wrote, “The Lord has blessed us, not only in providing us with this new building, but also in making each one of us stronger in faith in Him.
In the process of building the church, God has also built us from within, transforming our characters.
We teamed to develop a deeper sense of trust, a dependent and obedient heart, and a prayerful spirit.
By leaving everything in His hands, we have witnessed His works of miracles in return.
As a participant in the building team in the role of an architect, I was delighted to witness first-handed the work of God throughout the entire process of the building.
Not only was God present during the construction, He was there providing funding for the construction.
It was indeed an encouraging experience.
It was quite remarkable to witness the faith and obedience to the Lord that ICC has shown in embarking into this very project.
In retrospect, had we not been faced with the problems of financing, permits, design, construction, disagreements, throughout the process of building, and had everything worked just so smoothly without any challenges, would we then have experienced God's presence and guidance?
Would we have experienced God's love and blessings poured upon this project?
Would we have felt the need to be dependent upon Him? Would we have learned something so precious in our spiritual life?
I am extremely thankful that God has proven Himself faithful in my experience with the ICC project.
I trust that through the project, we will see God at work.
!! B. In Spite Of The Project
But, as we build, we need to remember that the church is not the building, the church is the congregation.
There are churches that meet in open areas, in homes, in buildings without a roof and function quite well.
As a congregation, we are always involved in the work of building the kingdom of God, quite apart from our building.
Of course, that work involves bringing others to Christ, nurturing them in faith and expressing the love of God for one another.
While we are involved in this project, which as I have said, I hope we will see as building God’s kingdom, let us, nevertheless, continue to build the kingdom of God in all the things we do as a congregation of God’s people.
In other words, the building of God’s kingdom goes on in spite of the building project.
It is interesting that in both Ezra and Nehemiah, the building project was only part of the story that was being told.
Ezra tells of the rebuilding of the temple, Nehemiah tells of the rebuilding of the walls around Jerusalem, but both of these books also tell of the spiritual renewal that took place among the people.
The leaders told the people, who were newly returned to the land after 70 years of exile in Babylon because of their sin, that if they did not want to end up in exile again, they would have to be a people who were faithful to the Lord.
In Ezra 7:10 we read that “Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the Lord, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel.”
In Nehemiah 5:9 we read that Nehemiah challenged the people, “Shouldn’t you walk in the fear of our God…” Later, in Nehemiah 8, we discover that the law was read and sin was confessed.
So while the building was going on, there was also spiritual renewal happening.
Robert C. Shannon has written, “The building committee had met to look at some designs for a new house of worship.
One member objected to some of the concepts.
"Let's build a church that looks like a church," he said.
Whatever your tastes in architecture for the building, spiritually the church should look like a church.
To put it better, the church should look like Christ.
If the church is Christ's body, it ought to resemble him in its compassion, its love and sympathy, its holiness.”
So, my encouragement to all of us is that in spite of the focus that will happen on the building and especially, in spite of the upheaval and disruption that will happen because we can’t meet in this building, let us keep on being the church God has called us to be and let us keep on building the kingdom of God by continuing to do His work wherever we can.
Let us keep on ministering to one another.
Let us keep coming to the services we have even if they are in a different location.
Let us keep offering our gifts for service to the Lord.
Let us keep reaching out to those who don’t know the gospel.
Let us keep visiting and caring for people.
Let us not let the intensity of the building work derail opportunities to care for people.
God is in this project and in us if we build it for the Lord and if we keep on building His kingdom even while everything is different.
We Can Contribute Something
God is also in this project as we each offer ourselves for service to the project.
In reading Nehemiah 3, I discovered something very interesting.
The building of the wall around Jerusalem was not done by the professional trades.
Each person joined in the building project and did their part.
In verse 1 we read that Eliashib the high priest was involved in the building.
In verse 8, we find that Hananiah, one of the perfume makers, was also involved.
Later in verse 32 we read, “and between the room above the corner and the Sheep Gate the goldsmiths and merchants made repairs.”
Unfortunately, there were also those who did not contribute.
In verse 5 we read about the work of the men of Tecoa, and also read that “their nobles would not put their shoulders to the work under their supervisors.”