Summary: A sermon about the role and function of the church.
WHAT’S UNDER OUR STEEPLE?
INTRO: My seminary Pastoral Ministries professor, C. W. Brister, in one of his books, tells about a pastor who received a distressed young woman into his study one day. She told the pastor how a few minutes earlier, she had almost leaped to her death from a nearby bridge. She said, “I looked from the bridge to the swirling waters below, then to the tower of your church. I wondered what was beneath that cross.”
Had she come to our church, what would she have found beneath the steeple? Jesus’ words suggest what He would have wanted her to find.
I. A CHURCH WHICH RECOGNIZES ITS PROPER OWNERSHIP.
The Jews thought of the Temple as theirs, but Jesus claimed it as his. Driving them out was the same as claiming authority over the Temple and declaring Himself it’s Lord. The church Jesus wants people to find here is one in which He is Lord. “Our little old church” is not ours at all but His. The time has come for us to recognize that the authority of Christ supersedes the autonomy of the church. A church is a democracy only under that Lordship. It has the power to do whatever it chooses but the right to do only what He chooses.
Many churches need to learn to think less about discovering the will of the majority and more about seeking the will of the Lord. Is Jesus under our steeple? What are we doing to make Him so?
II. A CHURCH WHICH FULFILLS ITS PRIMARY FUNCTION.
The church is a house of prayer. While Christ is no respecter of places and can hear as well from any place, He has ordained His house as a house of prayer. The people had turned the Temple into a marketplace rather than a prayer place.
In this day people make His house a preaching place, a giving place, a playing place, and an eating place, but the Lord still cries, “My house shall be called a house of prayer!”
Can a house of prayer be found under our steeple? If every member had your prayer habits, would it be a house of prayer?
III. A CHURCH WHICH RECOGNIZES ITS PLENARY SCOPE.
The church is for all nations. Turning the Court of the Gentiles into an animal market and money exchange prevented the Gentiles from using the one area of the Temple in which they could worship God.
This was just one more expression of the traditional Jewish contempt for other people. By His action Jesus rebuked this spirit of religious pride and racial prejudice as the spirit of greed and theft. Neither has any place in the Lord’s house.
Christ wants people to find under steeples, churches open to all. Is ours? What are we doing to open it?
CONC: “But you have made it a robbers den.” Jesus said. The Temple was what its priests and people had made it. People always make their church what it is. Ours will be just what we work to make it — nothing more, nothing less, nothing else.
Why not aim to put under our steeple the kind of church that the Lord wants others to find here?