The View From Here: Working For God or Walking With Him?
Then the Lord gave this message to Solomon: Concerning this Temple you are building. If you keep all my decrees and regulations and obey all my commands, I will fulfill through you the promise I made to your father, David. I will live among the Israelites and will never abandon my people Israel. (1 Kings 6:11-13)
These three verses come right in the middle of the chapter that is entitled Solomon Builds the Temple. The first half of the chapter leading up to these verses is replete with details about how high and wide and long the Temple is. Included in the detail is the number of rooms and a descriptive floor plan. The back half of chapter 6, the verses that follow 11-13, detail the Temple’s interior and inner sanctuary.
You can imagine Solomon, having surveyed the preparations his father David had made and the finishing preparations he had made wanted to get to work—and he did. But in the middle of all that work, God interrupts—“Concerning this Temple you are building.” (11). God has something to say to Solomon. We might expect, and maybe Solomon did as well, that God had an opinion about the Temple. Maybe God wanted to change something or remind Solomon of something or share His opinion about the Temple itself. Instead, God re-orients Solomon by giving him a message about the role of the Temple. “Concerning this Temple you are building…” God begins and then adds, “Solomon, you need to know that the basis for My presence is not a place, but obedience and faithfulness.” You might think that because you build me a house I will live there (God seems to be saying), but the basis of my presence is not a place or what you are doing for me, but our relationship.
How many times leaders and especially ministers confuse working for God with walking with God. The call and demands of ministry can distract us from the very thing that gives us the passion and power for the ministry we are called too—a vibrant ongoing relationship with God himself. In the service of the Temple, its building and care we can be distracted from the real work of ministry—leading people to intimacy with Christ out of our own intimacy with him.
Some of the maladies of our denomination can be directly attributed to this distraction. But this sickness has infected many of our local churches as well. This is primarily because our leaders and pastors have forgotten that working for God is not the same as walking with him.
I never will forget when one of my mentors confessed that he realized that in hindsight a number of his early years of ministry were spent working for God but not walking with him. “The problem with that arrangement”, said my mentor, “is that God doesn’t have any employees in His Kingdom, only sons and daughters.”
The godly leader pursues a relationship with God out of which the work of God through their life becomes fruitful. In obedience and faithfulness God finds a son or a daughter through whom His purposes can be accomplished in the world. How wonderful for the son or daughter who lives in this truth and doesn’t have to be interrupted by God to be reminded. It is equally wonderful for the people they lead.