The Temple of Zeus was built in Athens, Greece in 470BC to honor the Olympian god Zeus. Zeus was the king of the Greek gods and the one who controlled thunder and sky. It took over 700 years to finally complete the construction because it fell into the hands of conquering peoples many times over the centuries.
The most impressive part of the temple was the magnificent golden and chryselephantine statue of Zeus, which is considered to be one of the seven wonders of the Ancient World. This 42 foot tall statue was made by Phidias, the most talented sculptor of ancient Greece, in his workshop in Olympia. Both the temple and the statue of Zeus were destroyed by an earthquake.
What temples have you constructed?
Your temple may not consist of over 104 Corinthian marble columns, but I bet you have built one or two in your lifetime. Temples are places where we worship things, spaces where adoration of gods take place, and halls filled with idols that we place on a throne where Jesus should sit. It’s not too hard to identify what your temple is: just think about the one thing you cherish most. What do you think about first thing in the morning and last thing at night? Where do you spend your time and money? Where is your attention going?
I know a man who has built a temple of adultery for himself. All of his time and effort is spent in this temple. His mind, his resources, and his energy are willingly given at the altar of this temple. Secretively, he slips in and out like a thief in the night, unaware and uncaring that his worship practice is destroying his family.
Another one brings her offering to the temple of resentment. Every day she gathers up alms of wanting what others have, begrudging relationships around her that are happier than hers, and feeding her resentment until it is a tall statue in her mind that blocks out the sun.
Still others worship at the temple of Netflix, work, InstaGram, neighbor disputes, gossip, apathy, anger, racism, narcissism, sloth….the temples are many and easy to build. If your daily thoughts are consumed with what you will eat, what alcohol you will drink today, flirting with that attractive co-worker, how you will go about getting high, shopping for things you can’t afford, how much you can’t stand someone, etc, you are in the construction zone of temple building. Anything that consumes your waking consciousness can become something you worship.
1 Corinthians 3 instructs us on the matter of building temples:
10 I laid a foundation like a wise master builder according to God’s grace that was given to me, but someone else is building on top of it. Each person needs to pay attention to the way they build on it. 11 No one can lay any other foundation besides the one that is already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 So, whether someone builds on top of the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, grass, or hay, 13 each one’s work will be clearly shown.
The day will make it clear, because it will be revealed with fire—the fire will test the quality of each one’s work. 14 If anyone’s work survives, they’ll get a reward. 15 But if anyone’s work goes up in flames, they’ll lose it. However, they themselves will be saved as if they had gone through a fire. 16 Don’t you know that you are God’s temple and God’s Spirit lives in you? 17 If someone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person, because God’s temple is holy, which is what you are.
“The day” that Paul refers to is the day of Judgment. On that day, we will stand before God and our work will be exposed to the flame of righteousness. We are God’s temple and God’s temple is holy. And so are you.
What does it mean to know that you are holy? Things that are holy are set apart and sacred. This is a reminder that your mind, heart, actions, and behaviors are sacred to God. If you build a temple where only the sacred exists, God will take his rightful place on the throne and your waking thoughts will only be about serving him, pleasing him, sharing him, living for him, and living through him.
The time in the scriptures where we see Jesus at his most angry was when he threw the money changers out of the Temple. They were guilty of conducting commerce (and likely cheating people) on the steps of the Sacred. This was intolerable.
If Jesus visited your temple today, what would he throw out? False gods bring false hope. Obsessive behavior and worshipping things that exclude God is false worship. Jesus would throw that stuff out. Go, and do likewise.
Photo by Kathy Kasperik.