Are We Serving an Empty Temple?

When Jesus had Left the Building

There may come a time where we need to examine our motives for attending a church.  Why are we there?  Do we show up to Risen Lord Jesus and learn more about Him?  Or are we there for other reasons?   We may be honoring a commitment to a person, chasing an emotion or serving our memories but it is not really about Jesus.

With the decline of many of the great churches all over the world, if we are to be faithful to Christ we must be willing to be honest in our searching.  Why do we get out of bed and go to service each Sunday morning?

The worst thing to realize as a believer is we are there based on something other than Jesus.

If God left the building many years ago and no one seemed to notice, what in the world are we still doing there?

We see a picture of this in Israel after Jesus ascended to heaven.  The Temple in Jerusalem remained standing for another 30 plus years.  It was once the dwelling place of God among the Jewish people,  God’s glory departed with Jesus.  The building stood in all of its grandeur until 70 AD.  It was still one of the wonders of the ancient world.  It was covered with gold and sandstone so that it appeared to shine when struck by the sun and yet, God was not there…so it was worthless spiritually.

Are We Serving an Empty Temple? Pastor Unlikely

A Shadow of Things to Come in Jesus

The Temple was just a shadow of the Messiah to come and they had just killed the Messiah.  The priests served in all their pomp and circumstances at the Temple each day.  They said all the right things but their heart wasn’t in it.  They fasted and avoided things supposedly in the name of God…and God was not pleased with them.


They chose rituals, costumes and feelings of self-righteousness over Jesus.  They chose a building over God.

Millions of Israelites came to Jerusalem to the empty building each year as they always had and offered sacrifices.  They gave their money to those who were running the Temple and expended great energy to get there.  The people were likely comforted by the great ceremony of it… and it offended God.

They chose a pretty building and a comfortable system over His Son.

Are We Serving an Empty Temple? Pastor Unlikely

The Israelites rejected the pure and undefiled gift of the Son of God because they were more comfortable with what they had.  They chose tradition over the Messiah.  They said all the right prayers, they gave money and went through all the correct motions but they chose what they had over the King of Kings…and many did not seem to realize it.

Is Our Religion Empty?

We can get caught up in the same mistakes.  There are churches today that are in great transition.  They were once great, powerful Bible teaching churches.  They built their buildings and denominations off of the power of God that comes with worshipping the Lord.  They were once filled with joy and reverence.

Along the way, they lost sight of why they were called churches.  Jesus was removed from the center of church life. He may have been replaced by a social club, social justice or comfortable tradition and ritual.  It doesn’t really matter what replaced Him, just that the focus on Jesus was lost.

Are We Serving an Empty Temple? Pastor Unlikely

Yet, people still stayed.  They liked the denomination, the building or the people.  They loved the music.  Their family went there so they couldn’t leave.  They loved the work the church did despite Jesus’ name never being mentioned.

Like the Israelites, we can choose rituals, costumes and feelings of self-righteousness over Jesus.  It is noteworthy who Jesus is speaking to in the Revelation 3 verses above.  He is speaking to a church.  Jesus is outside the church asking to come in.  No one seems to realize that He is not already inside with them.

JESUS is outside the church asking to come in and no one seems to realize that He is not already inside with them.  The door is shut on Jesus.  It is a shocking but all too common picture.

We can choose a powerless picture of Jesus in stained glass over the Lord who makes us uncomfortable and challenges us.

We can choose a pretty building and a comfortable system over His Son.

We can love the “church” so much we can’t bring ourselves to follow Jesus out the door when He is kicked out.  We may not have even noticed that Jesus was no longer there.

The robes are still there.  The incense is still burned, candles still lit and songs still were sung.   It still feels great to be there…so many comforting memories…but not for the right reason.  We are going through the motions of an old comfortable dance yet there is no music playing.

Why are we in church on Sunday morning?  Why are we in our particular church?

If the answer is not very clear, we may need a Sunday makeover.

As Christians, we don’t follow a church, a denomination, a style of singing or a comforting system.   We follow the Mighty King Jesus.  If He is not why we are in church then we are just wasting our time.

We follow the Mighty King Jesus.  If He is not why we are in church then we are just wasting our time.


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2 thoughts on “Are We Serving an Empty Temple?
  1. Yes, Jesus must be the reason for going to church. To praise and give honor to him, the Father and Holy Spirit. I don’t know about other churches, only the one I went to for years. I don’t know what they are like, but I did read the Lutheran Church made some sort of agreement with the Catholic Church. I was pretty shocked and dismayed by that. The Reformation by Luther was a wonderful step forward. This is its 500th anniversary. I don’t think the uniting of churches is a good thing. Most of them would have to turn their backs on one or more of their beliefs. Never a good thing, unless you are actually convinced your former beliefs were wrong.

    1. I am trying to remember where it is but when Jesus refers to His sheep in sheepfolds He uses the plural for the folds. As in, there will be more than one gathering place for the flock. I love the diversity of the Body of Christ and agree that differences are a good thing as long as Jesus is the center of it.

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