In today’s reading from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, we are told that we are God’s building, and not just any building. According to Paul, we are a holy temple, in which dwells the Spirit of God. It all sounds so good, so holy, so permanent.
But we know from history that even the great temple of Jerusalem (pictured above) was utterly destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD. This was a shocking event for faithful Jews. Many had thought that it would last forever, that the temple itself had the ability to protect against any outside forces. They, of course, were wrong, not understanding that buildings of stone and wood are always subject to devastation and destruction.
At the time of the letter to the Corinthians (around 53 AD), the destruction of the temple had not yet occurred. Yet Paul is deeply concerned about the destruction of God’s temple. This is puzzling since he knew, and we know, that the body is born into the inevitability of physical death. To understand the deeper meaning that Paul is teaching us, we need to recognize that it is a different sort of “building” that he alludes to in his letter. He was referring not merely to our physical bodies, but to the totality of our being – physical and spiritual. In that reality we must build our foundation in the person of Jesus. Without this foundation we are bound to let the temptations, storms and struggles of our lives deconstruct our holy temple, stone by stone.
So, let’s focus on the foundation … we can install the stained glass later!!!