Temple Syndrome or Kingdom Faith


We looked out the window and we saw trees bending down to the ground, branches flying through the air like jet planes, rain coming down like the days of Noah.  In a matter of minutes, solid well-built structures were ripped apart and flattened.


This storm, like many others, was a foretaste of storms which we know in our bones are still to come…storms in the economy,

                                                 the weather,


                                                 rapid change.


And as we think of what lies ahead there is, in all of us, a yearning for stability, for an inner security which we do not possess.


From Matthew 24: 1-8

Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. But he answered them, "You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another, that will not be thrown down."

As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?" And Jesus answered them, "Take heed that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,' and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars, see that you are not alarmed. For this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places: all this is but the beginning of suffering.

The disciples point to the temple as their ultimate sign of stability.  But Jesus warns them of a coming storm which is going to leave that temple in rubble.  He urges the disciples to get their eyes off the temple and every other symbol of stability and fix eyes of faith exclusively on him.


We are just like those disciples.  Even the most stable of us carry within us an instability which did not suddenly disappear the moment we entered the Kingdom of God.


There is in each of us a craving to take hold of something solid, something that will make our lives feel more secure. Of course, the Lord promised that if we listen to his word and act on it, we'll be like the man who built his house upon the rock.  But still, we'd really like to cling to a tangible rock, a visible anchor.


We wonder why the Israelites kept slipping back again and again into idolatry after seeing such marvelous signs and wonders in the wilderness.  The trouble with signs and wonders is that they come and go. Whereas an idol is always there.  You can see it.  You can reach out and touch it when you feel the need.  Hence there develops, beneath our faith in Jesus, a "faith" in something in addition to Jesus.  Something which seems to be more reliable in this practical, logical world.  

After six days, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, his brother, and led them up a high mountain apart. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his garments became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. And Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, it is well that we are here; if you wish, I will make three booths here, one for you, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah."

Six days before, Peter had it.

He confessed, "You are the Son of God, the Christ, the Messiah". He understood that the exclusive anchor of his life had to be Jesus alone.


But now, even though Peter is looking into Jesus' face  which is shining as the sun, his garments as white as the light — it's not enough. Now he wants to put Moses and Elijah up there with Jesus for reinforcement.  Plus he wants to build three booths, things you can touch, things you can look at; so that when the vision ends you'll still have the booths as shrines to cling to. You'll be able to see them and touch them. Peter will be able to say, "Look at what I built for the Lord."


Big mistake. 


No wonder the Father corrects him from the cloud. 


But Peter and his friends still haven't learned.  When they come to Jerusalem, the Temple is still their shrine. 


Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. But he answered them, "You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another, that will not be thrown down."



"Look at those buildings…there is nothing that will be left there, not one stone upon another…everything torn down."


Jesus spends the rest of the twenty-forth chapter of Matthew urging his disciples to get their eyes away from the temple and every other false security – and fix them on him.   Because, if they are going to survive the storm which is about to break over them, they will have to be rooted and grounded in Jesus only.


Not Jesus, plus the temple.

Or Jesus, plus Moses and Elijah.


          Just Jesus.


As we approach  the storm that is soon to devastate much of what we think of as solid in our lives  and our culture, it is imperative that we distinguish between the temple syndrome and Kingdom faith.


The temple syndrome is our tendency to look away from Jesus and fix our eyes on the temple instead of the unseen glory.


Our particular "temple" may be our fellowship, or our favorite Christian brother or sister, or the writings of C.S. Lewis, or Watchman Nee, or Oswald Chambers.


In subtle ways our commitment is compromised by our secret glances toward  our temple. Sometimes we like to go off to our temple and bond with it a bit. It makes us feel safer.


But our temple, whatever it is, is going to come down. And the more we invest our hearts in that temple, the more devastated we are going to be when it does come down.


Kingdom faith, on the other hand, is the faith that recognizes only two things in the whole world to be solid –


First, Jesus' word:


"Heaven and earth will pass away, but my word will not pass away" ,


Second, the fruit that is born under the power of His word:


"You did not choose me. I chose you and ordained you that you should go and bring forth fruit and that your fruit should remain."


Nothing else is solid. Our bodies are not permanent.

 Our families are not permanent.

 Our fellowships are not permanent.

 Our buildings are not permanent.

 Our nation is not permanent.


And our temple, whatever our temple is, is going to go exactly the way of the temple in Jerusalem.


Jesus predicted it, and in the year 70 AD it happened. And for almost 2000 years now the temple site has been without a temple. It is the temple site, and on it is an Islamic mosque, but no Jewish temple.



The only way we will experience any kind of inner security in this world is to concentrate on doing two things – knowing Jesus

and making Him known.


"Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away."


"Lo, I am with you always."


"You did not choose me, but I chose you and ordained you that you should and bring forth fruit and that your fruit should remain."


Come to Him, to that Living Stone, rejected by men, but in God's sight chosen and precious. And like living stones be yourselves built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in scripture, "Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone, chosen and precious, he who believes in Him will not be put to shame. To you, therefore, who believe He is precious, but for those who do not believe the very stone that the builders rejected has become the head of the corner and a stone that will make men stumble and a rock that will make them fall. For they stumble because they disobey the word as they were destined to do. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, and God's own people that you may declare the wonderful deeds of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.  1 Peter 2: 4-9


                                        Come to Him


          Proclaim Him


First we are to come to him the Living Stone and allow ourselves to be built into a spiritual house -- to turn away from whatever temple we may be furtively glancing at and offer up everything to Jesus.  We need to allow the Spirit of God to form us as living stones in the only temple which will last forever – His Body – to be living members of His Body - to be living stones in an eternal temple.


Come to Him – to that Living Stone. The primary pursuit of our lives is to know Jesus. Every other goal has to be pushed to the side as this one goal is given priority.  Every day of our lives is a journey into a more direct, a more clear, a more genuine knowledge of Jesus Himself – a relationship with Him.


We practice His presence,

                 soak up His word,

                 commune with Him,

                 walk with Him,

                 talk with Him,

                 worship Him,

                 adore Him,

                 serve Him,

                 offer up our very bodies

as living sacrifices to the Father in His name.


The second lasting thing which we do is proclaim Jesus to the world.

"You are a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a chosen race, God's own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light."

 We proclaim Him to the world. Every other thing we do in this world is going to return to dust. Everything we build will one day come down.  But the fruit, which is born as we proclaim Jesus to the world, will remain forever.


We proclaim Him with our own mouths. You don't hire somebody else to do that for you. You can't.  God gave you a tongue. And just a surely as the Spirit of God has anointed that tongue to offer praises to God he has also anointed that same tongue to proclaim Jesus to the world.


Of course, the authority of our message will hinge on whether we practice what we preach…. whether we are showing to the people whose lives touch ours the mercy we are proclaiming to the world…whether the Son of God manifests His holiness through us


When the Spirit of the Lord brings us together in fellowship, he does not pick the most stable types. All we have to do is look into our own hearts to see how needy we are.  But God does not intend that we should remain unstable.



If we come the Living Stone and allow ourselves to be built into God's temple, if daily we strive to know Jesus and to make Him known there is not a storm on earth that can uproot us.


He was still speaking, when lo, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him." When the disciples heard this they fell on their faces in awe. But Jesus came and touched them saying, "Rise, and have no fear." And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.  Matthew 17: 1-8