Okay, it may be an Old Testament declaration but, with a slight, two-letter modification, I think it would be fit for a New Testament t-shirt.
Back story: “The adversaries of Judah and Benjamin have heard that the returned exiles are building a temple to the LORD, the God of Israel” (Ezra 4:1). First, they try and infiltrate the building program in order to subvert it (4:2). Then, they try to discourage the laborers through intimidation, even hiring mercenary “counselors” to try and frustrate their purposes (4:4-5). Finally, they take the matter to the supreme court, the king of Persia, seeking a cease and desist order.
Over time, the matter works its way back and forth through the courts of the kings of Persia. And something in one of the depositions jumps off the page as I read. So, I start chewing on it a bit and end up thinking it could be words fit for my imagined t-shirt.
“Then we asked those elders and spoke to them thus: ‘Who gave you a decree to build this house and to finish this structure?’ . . . And this was their reply to us: ‘We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth, and we are rebuilding the house that was built many years ago, which a great king of Israel built and finished.'”
(Ezra 5:9, 11 ESV)
We are the servants of God, and we are building the house. How’s that for the back of a t-shirt? How’s that for a church vision statement?
We are the servants of God. Amen? And we dwell in a land that would seek to subvert, oppose, intimidate, and frustrate the purposes of God. Agree? And what are we doing here? We are building the house.
Not some brick-and-mortar building. Not some ornate, inanimate structure. But with living stones as our materials, we’re building a living house, a spiritual house “to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1Pet. 2:5).
Where do these living stones come from? They are trophies of grace, redeemed through faith from the bondage of sin by the blood of Jesus through the finished work of the cross. How are they quarried? They are transformed, conformed, and shaped into the likeness of the temple’s cornerstone, the Son of God, through the sanctifying work of the temple’s active agent, the Spirit of God. And what they are making, again? They are “being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit” (Eph. 2:22).
Us New Testament folks are kind of involved in the same stuff those Old Testament folks were involved in. Aren’t we? I think we are!
Now be honest with me, if that’s really how we saw ourselves, how jazzed would we be to be part of a church? Pretty jazzed, I’m thinkin’. How much would we want to be where the action is? Pretty much. How blessed by being part of such a building program? Pretty blessed.
Blessed enough, I’m guessing, we might even get t-shirts made up.
We are the servants of God,
and we are building the house.
Yeah, we are!
By His grace. For His glory.