If I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth. (1 Timothy 3:15)
If you ever have an opportunity, you might enjoy making a list of the terms used in the New Testament to describe the church. Three of them are in today’s passage:
God’s Household: The church is a family, and God is her Father. Therefore, when we come together to worship, serve and grow as followers of Jesus, we are a household of faith. This is why sometimes it is difficult to discern whether a Bible author is talking about a physical or spiritual household. And in many cases, they are one in the same.
The Church of the Living God: The word “church” is actually generic. The Greek word translated as “church” refers to a “gathering” or “assembly” that is “called out”. People form assemblies for many reasons in our culture. But when they are called together for the purpose of worshipping the Living God, they are the church of the Living God.
The Pillar and Foundation of the Truth: While the word of God is obviously viewed as a foundation of truth, the church itself stands for truth. This is an incredibly awesome thought when we consider the visual and the responsibility it puts on God’s household. When we go to our National Mall we see impressive buildings with huge pillars and foundations, representing the unchanging principles on which our country was founded. Do people view the church and its devotion to truth in the same way?
When I was a kid, my parents talked with me about how I should behave at church. You know…the basic things I wasn’t supposed to do. Things like running in church, eating the communion that was left over from worship, talking during the sermon, using a mirror to reflect the overhead lights in the sanctuary into the eyes of church members during the offering…
Ok…so maybe I didn’t do that last one (if my mother is reading this).
But beyond these things, there are some grown-up behaviors Paul has in mind. We don’t use people of the church as a vehicle for our own ambitions. We don’t distort God’s Word to mislead others, bind people with legalistic expectations God never intended, or condemn people we don’t like. We don’t gossip, get drunk, pursue dishonest gain, or neglect our families.
You see, it isn’t the outward architecture of the church that influences our world, but rather the heart of its people. And to a great degree, the heart of the church is reflected in its actions.
We probably should continue to teach our children how to behave in church, but the older I get, the more I pay attention to what grown-ups do. I suspect this is what those who aren’t a part of God’s household watch too.
Dear God, teach me how to behave. In Jesus’ name, Amen.