Summary: A church in Texas is planning to build the largest cross in the Western Hemisphere. But Jesus didn't build His church this way. He built His church on a different kind of cross. Do you know what cross that was?
OPEN: Down in Corpus Christi Texas, a church broke ground about 2 years to build a huge cross – 150 feet tall. But, they do everything big down in Texas and once they’d broken ground they decided they hadn't dreamed big enough. Now they plan to build that cross to be 230 feet tall and 95 feet wide (19 stories tall). But why did they stop at 230 feet? Because that was the maximum height allowed for flight patterns in the area. However, when the cross is completed it will be the largest cross in the Western Hemisphere, and the 2nd largest in the world. The largest cross in the world is more than twice that size and it's located in Madrid, Spain – that one stands 495 feet tall.
COST: for the Corpus Christi Cross - about $2.5 million dollars.
APPLY: $2.5 million dollars seems like an awful lot to spend for a cross. So why are they doing it? Well, partly because it will be BIGGEST cross in Western Hemisphere. But they’re selling the concept to Corpus Christi as a huge draw for tourists to the area. Now, the church says they’re really building this cross to proclaim the death of Christ… and maybe they are. But personally, I really think it’s all about bragging rights. Nonetheless it’s their money and they can do what they wish with it.
But what I find interesting is that when Jesus built HIS church in Acts, He didn’t do that!!! He didn’t build a huge 19 story cross. The cross that He died on reached farther into the heavens than anything man could ever build.
In our text today we’re given another insight into HOW Jesus intended to build His church. We’re introduced here to Stephen - one of the first Deacons in the church. He was described as being “a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit”. (Acts 6:5) And Stephen was a man on fire for Jesus. Stephen was the kind of guy who tells everyone who’ll listen – about his faith in Jesus. He’s the kind of guy you just can’t get to shut up, he’s so excited. But some folks just don’t want to listen to that. And a lot of folks didn’t want to listen to Stephen.
Acts 6:10-13 tells us about some men who “…could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking. Then they secretly instigated men who said, "We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God." And they stirred up the people and the elders and the scribes, and they came upon him and seized him and brought him before the council, and they set up false witnesses who said, "This man never ceases to speak words against this holy place and the law.”
THEN the High Priest asks Stephen if these charges are true … and that’s all the excuse Stephen needs. He cuts loose on a sermon before the vaunted Sanhedrin, and he just never quits. His sermon not only answers the objections but which also lays the foundation of what it takes to be a church.
As I studied this text, I saw 3 principles every church ought to know about building the kind congregation Jesus had in mind. The 1st principle I saw here was this: God doesn’t need a building.
Stephen had been accused of speaking against Temple where folks worshipped, but Stephen said: “Our fathers had the TENT of witness in the wilderness, just as he who spoke to Moses directed him to make it, according to the pattern that he had seen. Our fathers in turn brought it in with Joshua when they dispossessed the nations that God drove out before our fathers. So it was until the days of David, who found favor in the sight of God and asked to find a dwelling place for the God of Jacob. But it was Solomon who built a house for him.
Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made by hands, as the prophet says, ‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me, says the Lord, or what is the place of my rest? Did not my hand make all these things?’” Acts 7:44-50
For about 500 years the Jews had worshipped at a TENT (tabernacle). It wasn’t until about 500 years later that Solomon built the Temple. Stephen’s point was this: God didn’t need a building. A TENT had served the Israelites just as well for centuries. It wasn’t that God didn’t approve the Temple… it’s just He didn’t really need it
God had declared: “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me that would hold me?”