Living in Awe of God's House
Sunday Evening, December 5, 1993
Jacob spoke about a “dread.” “How dreadful is this place” (Gen. 28:17). The question was asked, “What does dread have to do with anything? Why is it dreadful that this would be the House of God?” There are other ways to translate the word “dread,” such as, “How awesome is this place,” but the point is that there IS a right view of the Body of Christ. That view of the Body of Christ has to include a certain sort of dread or awe at the House of God. Otherwise you are missing it, and you will make major tactical errors in your life if you don’t see it properly. If you see the Body of Christ as something that angels ascend and descend to, if you see the House of God, Bethel, as being the very gate of heaven (Everyone wants heaven, right?), there IS going to be a certain dread in your heart.
In truth, the way God means for the Church, the Body of Christ to be viewed, is that it has to include that dread or awe, or we are not seeing it properly. “And all the believers were filled with awe” (Acts 2). There was some sort of transition that took place the moment they saw the Church in Acts 2. Something very dramatic happened in their lives to the extent that all the believers were together and had everything in common. “Yeah, yeah I know, they loved Jesus, they gave their life to the Messiah who they realized had come, and they repented of acts that lead to death.” But something else happened, too, and that was that they were devoted to the apostles’ teaching, devoted to fellowship, prayer, and the breaking of bread—all these things that have to do with other people, with the Church. They instantly had a regard for Ekklesia, not just praying in their prayer closet and then acknowledging these other people, “Well, they are Christians, too. I’m going to live for God and they are going to live for God, and so we ought to at least try to get along and attend something together regularly at least.” That isn’t how they viewed it.
The way they viewed it affected every ounce of their being. When they saw the House of God, Bethel, the gate of Heaven, something radical happened in the way they began to function with one another, to where this person owns my chariot as much as I do, and this person owns my house as much as I do. That isn’t just simply, “I believe the Messiah has come.” Something happened in the way they viewed other people. This people that were once not a people, but now are the people of God. They saw that. Something about Christ with His head in Heaven and His feet on earth was awe-inspiring to them and had a dramatic effect on their lives. It was a dreadful thing, not in the negative sense, of course, but there was something very awe-inspiring about that and they responded to it.
In 1 Corinthians 11, Paul spoke about not discerning the Body, and he went on to say that this simple fact of not discerning the Body brings judgment and so much anger from God, in the sense that He wants all men to be redeemed of it. There is an energy in God so that He’s even willing to kill people over it. “That’s why some of you are sick and others are dying (falling asleep),” Paul said. God has a lot of energy in His heart towards there being a dread or an awe about the Body of Christ. So much, in fact, that He is willing to take people out. He’s willing to take people out of the physical realm and remove them entirely from the lives of other people—mothers with young children, if necessary, grandmothers, and children growing up. He’s willing to destroy life, as men see it at least, in order that the Body of Christ would be discerned.
That’s why He said that many of you are sick and some are dying. It’s because you don’t discern the Body of Christ. You don’t see it the way God sees it. You are running ahead of each other. You are not caring for each other’s needs. Some of you are well fed, others are going hungry. You are living independently, you are living selfishly. You don’t have awe when you see the Body of Christ, and that’s why some of you are sick and others are dying. God takes that very seriously.