by Pastor Ralph J Mineo
The phrase “house of the Lord” appears over 200 times in the Bible. It generally refers to the Temple, to the place of formal worship. I would suggest here that “house of the Lord” refers to one part, or section, of God’s House.
Paul preached in Acts 17:24 “God doesn’t live in temples made by human hands.” Certainly God, who is present everywhere, is PRESENT in temples, synagogues, and churches. But this doesn’t mean that God is limited to these places. God’s house is the universe which includes the whole earth, all that’s in creation, heaven itself.
The children in my congregation sing a song with the words, “we are welcome here in God’s House... we are growing up in God’s House... we are loved in God’s House.” The song certainly refers to the place of worship, but it could (and should) also refer to the whole house of God, the universe (places outside our formal places of worship).
It’s close to universal that a parent would say at one time or other, “when you live in my house, you’ll follow my rules!” Parents are supposed to know what’s best for us! Rules are made for us to grow, and
ultimately, to be loved. God has rules (think: 10 Commandments and Jesus’ Great Commandment to “love one another as I have loved you.”) God expects us to follow these rules as long as we’re living in God’s House. That never means “just in church.” We live according to God’s rules in every part of God’s house. God TRULY knows what’s good for us!
Every parent also knows and probably teaches that not following the rules has unpleasant consequences. God’s House is, sadly, abounding with such unpleasant consequences. But as a loving parent, even when we break the rules, God still loves us. God loves us unconditionally. God forgives us and sometimes heals us and even removes the consequences.
God loves us and will always take us back. I saw a billboard the other day that read, “Thank you God for a second chance, AGAIN!” The promise is that we can ALWAYS return to God. God will never reject a repentant and sincere heart.
So God, as do most parents, makes promises. God, in Christ, promises to always be with us. God promises abundant grace. God promises peace.
Child of God, embrace God’s rules. Embrace God’s love. Embrace God’s promises. Know that God is embracing you!