The church is at the same time a creation of God and of humans. Beginning with God’s Presence in the wilderness with the children of Israel, God wanted a relationship with His creation. Of course, the story tells us God offered Himself to individuals previous to this, but sin limited those opportunities in every way.
After the anointing of David as King, the Ark of God found a home in Jerusalem. Only during Solomon’s reign was the Temple constructed for a permanent home for the Presence. At this point in history the Israelites worshiped Yahweh, an unpronounceable term of reverence, who is the God who miraculously delivered them from slavery in Egypt.
During the intertestamental period, the 300 plus years between the Old and New Testament, the Jewish faith came into being. With its temple worship, Pharisees and Sadducees interpreting the laws of God to the Israelites, the Prophets and Priests seem secondary.
With the prophetic message of John the Baptist and the arrival of Jesus, God again offered Himself to His people. This time Jesus chose to walk, eat, sleep, and live among ordinary people. This was challenging to the sensibilities of the Jewish faith and the power structure of the Jewish religion. These two clash because faith in God is profoundly different and far superior to faith in the church!
Pentecost moved even farther in the direction of personal relationship. Just as God walked with Adam and Eve, as he was friends with Moses, just as Jesus ate with sinners, the Holy Spirit came to live in the tabernacle of every heart. While the Bible is His complete revelation, God wants to be known via an experience of this holy and Spiritual “friendship.” Through Christ, the price of our redemption gets paid, and the Holy of Holies enters us creating the body of Christ for our world.
What might this look like? In John 3:3 Jesus is talking to Nicodemus, “3 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.””Or in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Paul describes Christian love, “4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”
And again in Ephesians 4:20-24, "20 But that isn’t what you learned about Christ. 21 Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, 22 throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. 23 Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. 24 Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy."
A tall order? Not for the God who is love and the people who seek only Him. The plan of God is about relationship before righteousness (ethics) and not the other way around! His gracious way leads to peace with God and healthy relationships, the other guarantees frustration, failure, broken relationships and spiritual numbness or deadness.