Build The House

Author: 
Isabelle Costello

Last  Sunday we concluded our series called “My House” on The Church, The House of Prayer, and how they are central themes in what we’re called to as a body, and as individuals. We honed in Haggai 1 and these verses: “Then the word of the Lord came by the hand of Haggai the prophet, "Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins? Now, therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways. You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes. "Thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways. Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may be glorified, says the Lord.” Haggai 1:3-8 ESV

Studying this passage again this week, verse 8 was highlighted to me “Consider your ways. Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and be glorified, says The Lord.”

There’s four parts to this verse that I want to quickly break down for us.
 

Consider Your Ways

This means taking a good hard look at the state of our hearts; to stop and reflect. How did we get here? Are we complacent? Apathetic? Indifferent? Or maybe it’s that we’re actually really comfortable where we’re at, and we don’t want to be moved at all by anyone or anything.
 

Go up to the Hills

This involves action and movement. It also speaks of a deliberate separation from the status quo; a consecration. They were to go out of the city where all the corruption was taking place, and get up above it. Being on a hill allows us to see from a higher perspective; a bird’s eye view of what’s down below.
 

Bring wood

This represents co-laboring with God. This takes some toiling on our part and sacrifice. It requires us not to just simply show up and expect something to appear out of nothing, but we have a part to play and something to contribute.
 

Build The House

The House represents the Body of Christ. His People. The House of Prayer. The Church. They are all one in the same. This is referring to a rebuilding of the House of The Lord; a returning to Him in humility and recognizing our desperate need. Once we get to this place, we can rebuild what’s broken.

The question I came to at the end was this: So what does it actually mean to “Build The House?” In answer to this question, The Lord brought me to another passage.

 

The Woman in John 8

I believe Jesus is calling us into a John 8 moment as the American Church. The women depicted in this passage was caught in the act of adultery; an offense punishable by death. She was then dragged into the town square before the assembly. The town’s people surrounded her with stones in their hands ready to execute her sentence. And what did Jesus do? He got down in the dirt next to her and drew a line in the sand. He says to the crowd gathered, “He who has no sin cast the first stone”. (v. 7) One by one they dropped their stones and walked away speechless. Jesus then looking around says,  “where are your accusers now?...  go and sin no more.” (v. 10-11, paraphrased) That moment radically changed the course of her life. A condemned women was given the chance at redemption and a new life. It’s not known for certain in scripture, but some scholars believe this woman to be the same woman who anointed Jesus with her costly perfume to prepare Him for his burial; the same woman of whom Jesus said “Everywhere The Gospel is preached her story will be told in remembrance of her” (Mark 14:8-9)

 

Fending Off The Accusers

The sins of The Church are many; too many to count. If our own fate was judged by our record of wrongs, none of us would be left standing. There are specific voices called to sound the alarm, call sin what it is, and say the hard things no one wants to hear, to bring us out of mediocrity. But not everyone amongst us are prophets; and those voices whom God has called, are far fewer than we’d like to think. Many within the Body of Christ have taken this role upon themselves, voicing opinions and judgments, but were never actually appointed by God to do so. The damage created by this epidemic is wreaking havoc within our members, and is partnering with our Enemy to destroy the Bride Jesus is fiercely fighting for. We’ve condemned her instead of working to bind up her wounds. It’s like pouring water into a bucket with holes that everyone knows are there, but instead of working to fix the holes, we make more holes rather than working to fix the problem itself. In many ways, The American Church at large as we know it lies in ruins, just like in this passage in Haggai 1. History is still repeating itself thousands and thousands of years later, and in the same fashion God has given us a remedy; a way to rebuild and mend the atrophied parts of the body.

I believe the heart of God for us concerning this is that we would stop throwing stones where we see failure, but be the ones to drive away her accusers like Jesus did.  We’re called to be the ones to hold her up where’s she’s weak, so that she can heal, walk in redemption, and rebuild. I’m not condoning or excusing sin by any stretch of the word. God alone sits in the seat of judgement and He’s not shy on what he feels about sin, nor should we be. We must make our standard the Word of God and not stray from it. What I’m after here, is challenging us to look deeper into the heart of God; that we would work through our jaded hearts that can no longer see Christ at the center of His Church —  and learn to genuinely love her again. By loving Jesus and each other well, the deep seated wounds and flaws would be washed white in HIs mercy, and life would flow through her veins once again. The heart has to heal first before we can heal the body, because the heart is the source of life.

 

A Resting Place

So what does this mean for us? In order for Jesus to be the center of His Church, we have to make a place for Him; to go back to to the basics of devotion, a set apart people, and wholehearted love for Jesus that burns brightly. This is who we are meant to be. All throughout history, Gad has been looking for a resting place where He can dwell with His people. This isn’t about a physical house or a construction project; it’s about making room for Jesus to have his rightful throne at the center of everything; the first place. (Matt. 22:37-38) Once this happens, all of the other details will fall into place. We need to dethrone ourselves, our idols, and all the things we think The Church should be or look like, set it on the altar, and let God refine us — so we can rebuild upon a pure and strong foundation. Sometimes we have to let go of the weak foundation that can’t stand anymore, and rebuild from the ground up with a new perspective.

The Church is by no means a lost cause! Jesus is ever fighting for us and is on our side; but we need to be fighting with Him and not against Him. His great love for us runs deep, and Jesus has no intention of giving up on us. He’s fully invested for as long as it takes. It is my prayer that we would love His Church back to health alongside Christ; that she would again be salt and brilliant light, reflecting the true nature who Jesus really is: the only Worthy One.