As I read through the Old Testament I usually try to see how this applies to Jesus or to life as a Christian. Sometimes it is easy to see the connection, and sometimes I end scratching my head. This reading, however, came across as a stark warning to me. The context is that Solomon has just dedicated the Temple and God showed up in a mighty way–fire from heaven consuming the sacrifices and the presence of the Lord so great in the Temple that the priests had to stop what they were doing. This is part of God’s response to Solomon after all of this:
But if any of you ever turn away from and abandon the regulations and commands that I have given you, and go to serve other gods and worship them, then I will uproot you from my land that I gave you, and I will reject this temple that I made holy for my name. I will make it a joke, insulted by everyone. Everyone who passes by this temple—so lofty now—will be shocked and will wonder, Why has the Lord done such a thing to this land and temple? The answer will come, Because they abandoned the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who brought them out of Egypt. They embraced other gods, worshipping and serving them. This is why God brought all this disaster on them.
Many people in Western Culture see the Church, the Temple of the Holy Spirit, as a joke and it is insulted because of that fact. Could it be that we are seen as a joke because we have worshiped other gods? Have we replaced the worship of the Trinity with prosperity, or justice, or moralism, or spiritual enlightenment, or tolerance, or civil power, or ritual, or music style, or some other such false god?
Perhaps we ought to think and pray long and hard about this and see what comes of it. Perhaps the Church’s problems are of our own making because we have forsaken our God in favor of the false gods of the peoples around us. Perhaps it is time for repentance so that the West may see the power of the Living God at work transforming lives once again.