Kind of a strange title for a blog post, right? But there is an incredible story in the Old Testament book of Ezra: the former Temple, which had been built by Solomon, was destroyed by a conquering army. Now, several decades later, a new Temple was going to be built. Look what happens on the day they finished the foundation:
Ezra 3:11-13 (NLT)
11With praise and thanks, they sang this song to the Lord: “He is so good! His faithful love for Israel endures forever!” Then all the people gave a great shout, praising the Lord because the foundation of the Lord’s Temple had been laid. 12But many of the older priests, Levites, and other leaders who had seen the first Temple wept aloud when they saw the new Temple’s foundation. The others, however, were shouting for joy. 13The joyful shouting and weeping mingled together in a loud noise that could be heard far in the distance.
The people who had been born after the first Temple's destruction were ecstatic that they'd have a place to worship right in Jerusalem! The people who remembered the grandeur of the first Temple wept when they saw the second Temple's meager foundation. I imagine there were some celebrating who thought, "How could they be weeping right now?!" and no doubt some weeping who thought, "How could they be celebrating right now?!"
While my intent is to address this blog to those who call The Chapel home, I am also mindful that many others may be looking in (and if that's you, welcome!). But here is something I want to remind our people of, specifically those that live in Lockport: you may be celebrating next to someone who is weeping. You might be looking at a new chapter for our local church thinking, "God is so good! His faithful love for us endures forever!" And you'd be exactly right. But it's very possible that you might be near someone who is looking at the former St. Mary's church building and thinking, "Man, I remember what used to be." The worst thing you could do is trample over their weeping because of your celebrating.
Should you celebrate? Absolutely. But in our day, social media gives our voice a reach into the lives of people we may never have had contact with otherwise. That can obviously be used and leveraged for great things, and we should look for those opportunities. But it can also mean that if you are not mindful of your words, you could actually end up doing damage to your Gospel representation.
Don't take the metaphor too far, of course. What we're doing in preparing a new worship center for the Lockport Campus is not the same as what the Israelites were doing in Ezra 3. This is not our "Temple" because the New Testament tells us this: "Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?" (1 Corinthians 3:16, NIV) Even still, this reminds us of an important lesson: two people may be looking at the same event and having very different - indeed, opposite! - responses. As disciples of Jesus, with hearts transformed by the Gospel, we ought to demonstrate a grace-filled sensitivity to our surroundings, even while we look forward to what will be an exciting season for us. That is what the Gospel demands of us, and that is what we will do. Remember, we are FOR Lockport - and that always means the people of Lockport too.
Together for the Mission,