June 20, 2024 Devotional

[Solomon declared as he dedicated the Temple:] “But will God really dwell on earth with men?
The heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!” —2 Chronicles 6:18

Tent camping is a favorite activity for millions of people, especially for my wife, Stacy, and me. Some of the love we have for tent camping goes back to my childhood, when we used to go camping a lot in the summers, to some family land that held great memories of friends and family gathered together. We also spent 25 years leading a week-long Christian tent camp each summer and spent intense time with hundreds of youth over a long span of time. One of my favorite camping experiences was a cross-country tent camping trip with our two kids in 2012 when we camped 28 straight days in a row, each night in a different place! Needless to say, we got pretty good at putting the tent up at night and taking it down in the morning. Yet, the one thing about tent camping is that you can only have so much stuff with you. You can not fit your comforts and luxuries in your tent. And even if you are blessed with one of the large RVs we see on the road, you still can’t take everything from home. It just won’t fit!

When King Solomon’s workers finished the grand expanse of the Temple, and it was time to dedicate it to the Lord, Solomon was struck by the immense and beautiful building that they had constructed as a place to worship the Lord! And YET, in that moment of joy and awe, Solomon was questioning all they had just done. Talk about buyer’s remorse! Yes, the Temple was huge. Yes, the Temple was beautiful. Yes, the God of the Universe was worthy to be worshiped and have a place on earth that attempted to bring Him glory. However, can God really be contained in a building? Can the Holy Spirit be cordoned off to a prayer room? Can Jesus be relegated to Sunday mornings? These were the questions that Solomon asked. These are the questions WE must ask. Just because we have a tent in which to live doesn’t mean we can fit all our house stuff in that tent, or RV, or house, for that matter. And just because we build a church, or ministry, or denomination doesn’t mean we can contain the Triune God of the Universe into that limited human edifice of our own making.

In one regard, that gives us pause to reflect and examine our faith and ministry. On the other hand, that’s the best news ever, because it means we love, serve, and minister to a God who is limitless, boundless, infinite, omnipresent, and all-powerful. God is all of that and more, beyond our limited understanding, and can do more than we ever ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). Just because God cannot be contained, nor the heavens bottled-up, we are not called to throw up our hands and give up. Or are we? Maybe throwing up our hands in praise and worship is the only thing we CAN start with! And since it’s not about our buildings, maybe those who are being asked to walk out of their buildings will find out that God is not just there, but everywhere He leads us. And those who are using their buildings and ministries for Holy Spirit empowered worshiping, loving, and witnessing will find that God is leading them outside those walls today to find the lost, hurting, and broken people right under the shadow of the steeple. Today, worship the One who cannot be contained and then go out and see where God is at work in the community, and join Him there. Maybe even in the campground!