...that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, 1 Timothy 3:15
The scriptures refer to a place to meet God called the house of God some 87 times in the Bible including the Gospels and the epistles of Paul and Peter. This includes anyplace where an individual or individual met with God, but primarily described a building set aside for that purpose.
The driving reason for this article is to bring up what I do believe a problem in our modern world. The lack of respect for the House of God. First, I recognize that these buildings should not be reverenced or set up as shrines. These places only become God's house when He is there and He is only there when His people assemble themselves. We are never taught to worship a building, but we are told to respect it as noted in the verse above. I am not comfortable to hear about large churches who literally set up malls within the walls of their buildings even though I realize that they have more people in attendance at a service than I have in my whole town. I am not comfortable with the casual atmosphere that is being encouraged by churches; come as you are, dressed as you are, and make your own choice as to which Bible to bring if you bring one at all. I am not comfortable with the allowance of food and drink in the sanctuary. (I know some are not comfortable with calling it a sanctuary!) Somehow it does not honor the Lord to sit and sip coffee or a Mountain Dew while the Word of God is being taught or preached. I am a little more lenient in non-service Bible studies outside the sanctuary.
Part of the problem is with what worship has become. In a lot of Churches worship is seen in religious calisthenics towards God thinking He will be impressed. One needs to do a little Bible study to find out what God really expects in our worship of Him. How do we truly glorify God?
I know that I have probably raised the ire of some readers who are asking, "What right does this author have in determining behaviour in the House of God?" Well, though the Bible does not describe behavioral characteristics in a particular place, there is quite a bit to go by. I think the determining factor is whether or not a worshipper believes he or she is in the presence of God or not. Think what God said to Moses at the burning bush. It just could be that God was at that burning bush, but nowhere near some cathedrals. I have toured some majestic buildings that had the name of Church but was obviously void of any Godly presence or recognition and I have sat in several storefront Churches where God's presence was more than evident.
Churches have always identified themselves for one and only one reason. So that passers by and those entering may know what is taught and believed. For centuries the name Baptist has defined a core of belief and a mode of worship. A few are not what they are named and many try to mimic the practice without such identifying name. No organization has risen to better the name of Baptist or come closer to matching what the Bible describes as the House of God. Most Family Centers and Community Centers have mistaken a sinner friendly atmosphere as the presence of God. Politically correct issues form the doctrinal base of many of them. They refuse to stand with Biblical principals and doctrine. In trying to get people through the door, they lower expectations by denying Christian behaviour. God's house must have one ingredient......God.