Sunday, 25 May 2014

Are you the one to build a house for me to live in?


2 Samuel 7:5-7;12-13

King David settles in his palace and then plans to build a palace/house/temple for God. And then God answers him with a question through his prophet asking, "are you the one to build a house for me to live in?" and goes on to say, I never asked anyone to build a house for me, for I have always lived and moved in tents among my people. And finally in that oracle God promises David that he will raise a descendant who will build a house for his name.

As we see Solomon's temple never lasted long, and we can in a cautious way interpret the "Son of David" as Jesus a descendant promised by God to build a house. However, Jesus' views on temple building thereof is not hugely appreciative, he said "Yes, look at these great buildings. But they will be completely demolished. Not one stone will be left on top of another!”(Mark 13:2). But, nevertheless he talks about a house, his father's house as "there is more than enough room in my Father’s home" (John 14:2). Jesus talks about preparing place for everyone in his father's house. Here, Jesus the promised descendant of David, will prepare a house of God, where everyone will have his place and enough room for everyone. 

This could be the true vision of house of God, it is not about the buildings, or the architecture or the decorations or anything that meets the eye. It is all about having enough room for everyone in God's house. The real temptation for the Churches today is to boast of buildings occupying thousands upon thousands, but, the attitude is of someone self satisfied like David, who after he is settled and has a palace on his own, now wishes to make a place for God. A space that is with in his control, that is a building - so called house of God. Monarchic attitude of controlling spaces even of the divine. It is no wonder Kings of every age, everywhere built temples, and churches to their honor. A move where in the control of God space is also under the Kingship.

God lives among his people in tents (John 1:14), his movement his fluid, free and accessible to everyone. [Temple/Church/House of God] Buildings could be interpreted through Lefebvre as, 'Representations of space controlled by elites'. Buildings become spaces of exclusion, spaces of private ownership of a superior minority, while excluding a majority of less privileged. We could say no temple or church boldly exclaims "enough room for everyone," instead there are spaces in temples/churches and the so-called 'prayer houses' and 'house of God', which has the function of exclusivity and rejection from controlling spaces (e.g. holy place, pulpit, etc.,).

As we see everywhere the boom of mega buildings all around the world, during construction every building has a scaffolding to block the public's view from an on-going construction. But, using Habermas' theory of Public Sphere, we could say scaffolding's are a way to 'hide the labour' and the labourer. The evil of Solomon's temple construction and all his public construction projects could be heard from his own descendant as, "Yes, my father laid heavy burdens on you ... My father beat you with whips ..." (1 Kings 12:10-11). This testimony is not what God intended on a descendent who will build his house, definitely not Solomon. Because every building is a burden and a whip on the marginalized. “Your father was a hard master,” they said. “Lighten the harsh labor demands and heavy taxes that your father imposed on us." (1 Kings 12:4), we hear these painful words from Solomon's subjects post his reign. All the romantics of riches and pomp of construction of magnificent palaces and Temple of God during Solomon's time was actually a result of "harsh labour and heavy taxes" upon the people.

How many building projects of churches we hear these days? How many millions are needed in order to build houses for God? How many mega-churches and prayer halls and opera-house imitating churches? finally the great question arrives, "are you the one to build a house for me to live in?" Actually vanity begins here. God has always lived in tents, among the wayside, among the labourers. God knows that there will be no end to building projects that will come in his name, but all these mega-building church and temple projects have scaffolding and tents on the platforms for the labourers. That is exactly where the presence of God is: among his people. And he will "leave the temple" (Mark 13:1) when it is done, wherein the buildings will only stay as sepulcher until the day it will be removed stone by stone. Because there is never a room for everyone in any building, except in the house of God, which is the very ground, you and I stand.

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