Building the new temple together
“Everyone is needed. And each one can contribute.” This was Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider’s appeal on Pentecost 2022. He urged the faithful to set examples for the presence of God on earth.
“Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” This was the Bible text from 1 Corinthians 3: 16 which the Pentecost service on 5 June 2022 in Buenos Aires was based on. All the District Apostles had gathered there for their semi-annual meeting.
Same gift, same chance
The Church leaders represent all the members across the globe, Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider made clear. “It strikes me how different the children of God can be,” he said, in terms of their circumstances, the size of the national Churches and congregations, as well as in terms of personal gifts and potential.
Yet one gift is common to all, he said, the gift of the Holy Spirit. And through this gift all believers have the same chance, namely to enter into the kingdom of God, where there will be no more injustice. That, he said, is the message of Pentecost. “And this is what we are celebrating.”
Signs of the presence of God
Pentecost, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, is considered as the birthday of the church of Christ. Apostle Paul describes this church as the temple of the new covenant. The temple was a sign of the presence of God, he said. The Jews went there to encounter God, to thank Him, to call on His help, and to implore His forgiveness.
In the new temple, the believers experience this encounter in divine service, the Chief Apostle said. We express gratitude and praise His name through our prayers, through music, by bringing our offerings, and by doing good to our neighbour. After all, Jesus said: “I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.”
In the new temple, the members of the congregation pray for each other. Our most important plea is: “Deliver us from evil.” The plea: “Forgive us our debts”, must no longer be accompanied by a sacrifice, he said. Because Jesus Christ brought this sacrifice—once and for all.
In the heart and at work
The temple was to be a sign of the presence of God in the midst of His people. This also applies to the new temple: every believer should be a visible sign that God is present on earth. How? By demonstrating that God lives in our hearts and by making the effort to please God and not collect Likes from other people.
However, it is not enough that God is present, He must also be active. This thought is nothing new. “But I am not interested in history,” the Chief Apostle said. “I am interested in my own spiritual development!” And here we must all answer the same question for ourselves: “Have I changed?”
Everyone can help with the construction
Above all, however, it is important that we work and help along in building the new temple. As different as the gifts of the believers may be, one thing is sure: “Everyone is needed. And each one can contribute.”
But this will not work in the human way, because then everybody would make sure that it is comfortable for them—without having to change their opinions and habits. “That would be a mess.”
Important is the plan of God: in accordance with the gospel of Jesus Christ and the teaching of the Apostles, as described in the Bible. It is true that a lot of things can be justified with the Bible, the Chief Apostle said. However, it is important to read the Bible in the light of the Holy Spirit. Those who do that will be inspired to love God and their neighbour.
Under construction until the end
The new temple is still under construction, the Chief Apostle said. And the visible church of Christ is still imperfect. “Don’t get upset about it. That is normal. It is still under construction.” What matters is not the number of imperfections we can see, but how we deal with them. “With God’s help we can deal with these human imperfections.”
The new temple will only be finally completed in the new creation. “We do not have to wait that long,” the Chief Apostle said with reference to the day of the Lord. Even at the return of Christ, the bridal congregation will still be imperfect. God will grant His grace.
Photo: INA Sud América
Argentina, Chief Apostle, Divine service, Pentecost