An Ode to the Church

It’s a fact thing based on a faith thing through an overflowing grace thing. That’s what I’m picking up this morning from what’s being laid down in Psalm 84.

It’s a psalm about the courts of the LORD. A hymn about His house. And the blessing that is owned by those who long to dwell there, “in whose heart are the highways to Zion.” For every hour spent on the holy hill provides strength for the inevitable hours of going through the valley of weeping (“Baca”). And beyond just surviving Baca, they flourish in Baca as the tears of Baca are used of their God to “make it a place of springs.”

For the songwriter, to be in the courts of the LORD for but a day “is better than a thousand elsewhere.” Give the seeker of God a choice between being a doorman in the house of God or the guest of honor in the opulent tents of the wicked, and they’re going to pick being a doorman every day, all day long. They want to be where the glory is. They want to ever “sing for joy to the living God.”

It’s a psalm about the courts of the LORD. About the temple in Zion.

So, isn’t Psalm 84 also an ode to the church? I’m thinkin’ . . .

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In Him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

(Ephesians 4:19-22 ESV)

A holy temple in the Lord. A dwelling pace for God by the Spirit. Welcome to the church! So why wouldn’t Psalm 84 be our psalm?

My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God. . . . For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere.

(Psalm 84:2, 10a ESV)

It’s a fact thing, the church is the dwelling place of God. We should long and yearn for every chance we get to be where she comes together and where God has promised to make Himself known in her midst. We should desire to serve in her courts. We should expect that spending time with her can be the mountain top experience that will sustain us in the valleys.

But it’s a reality that is founded on faith.

O LORD of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in You!

(Psalm 84:12 ESV)

We don’t always encounter the glory and so we need to believe the LORD of hosts when He says the glory’s there. We don’t always see the bride in her splendor, but we trust that the Bridegroom is actively engaged with her to present her “to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:27).

And that also makes it a grace thing. His glory present amidst His less than perfect dwelling place even as He supernaturally interacts with her, sanctifying her and cleansing her by washing her with His word (Eph. 5:26). Having declared her holy, having purposed to be where two or three or gathered in His name, He makes her holy and let’s His presence be known.

An encounter of the divine kind. Every week, at a gathering near you. A fact thing. A faith thing. An abundance of grace thing. The thing I want to encounter and experience.

My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the LORD . . .

By His grace. For His glory.

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