Grace and Peace to you.
David settles in as king of Israel, and wants to build a temple. He says to God, “I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of God stays in a tent.” But God says, “I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent and a tabernacle.” God promises to uphold David, and says “The Lord will make you a house” (2 Samuel 7.11). I know what that means: that God will make for David a house, and also that God will establish him as a royal dynasty: the house of David. But when I was young I liked to imagine that it meant “I will make you into a house,” like, turn you into a three-bedroom bungalow. Poof!
Funny little joke. Except that, of course, it’s actually true. Paul says that “your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor. 9.16), so in a way God has made you into a house. And Ephesians 2.22 says it, too, not just of individuals but all of us—in fact specifically disparate groups, Jews and gentiles—“You are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.”
Ephesians is talking about the formation of the early church, but the principle is more universal. God lives in our unity with others. When we believe there are others with whom we have nothing in common, what we have in common is God. Jew and gentile, fundamentalist and progressive, gay-basher and rainbow-wearer, Taizé and praise band, Romney and Obama, believer and atheist—God does not just ask us to get along; God lives in the bond between us. God has made us into a house.
We don’t have to play on the same team, but we do have to remember that we are part of the same humanity. We are all cells of one organism. Our opinions, values and behaviors distinguish us but can’t divide us. Part of the power of a nonviolent protester facing armed authority is that the latter suffer from the illusion of our separateness, and therefore lack power, while the nonviolent one knows that in fact they are one; and that truth has all the power. That’s why Jesus’ death was also a victory. In dying for his enemies, he did away with their their enmity. They became one. It’s a cosmic shift: enmity has no power.
You are a house. God has chosen you as a tent to move about and live in. Your opponents are also houses of God. And we all are a house where God lives, not in any of us alone, but in the sacred space among us. Be mindful of this mystery, for it is the foundation of a great and powerful dynasty.
Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes