"Who is left among you who saw this house in its former glory? How do you see it now? Is it not as nothing in your eyes? Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel," declares the LORD. "Be strong, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land," declares the LORD. "Work, for I am with you," declares the LORD of hosts (Haggai 2:3-4).It's an interesting passage. Israelites had come home from Babylon to begin rebuilding Jerusalem and the Temple. They worked ... for awhile. Then they stopped work on the Temple. The "old guys" were standing around, clucking their tongues. "Not much to look at," they were saying. "I remember the original Temple. Now that was something. Nope, not much here." And God steps in ...
We see a lot of this these days. Church is changing. Forms are shifting. And, yes, there are declines in doctrine -- no doubt. But just as often as not, it isn't a matter of doctrinal impurity. It's a matter of "I remember the old way ... it was much better." It's a matter of people who don't like new things. They look around and find "biblical reasons" why there shouldn't be drums in church or video projectors or praise bands. Why aren't people wearing ties or dresses for church anymore??!! The reasons are weak, sparce, vague. The truth is that they don't like it, so they'll try to match their preference with their Bible and come up with a mandate. "We never had drums in church before ... the old way was much better." They're the 21st century version of these people in Haggai.
What is it that makes "church"? It's very simple. "I am with you." A church is made when God is there. Funny thing. The church isn't made when a building has a steeple. It isn't made when there are pretty stained-glass windows. It isn't made with a piano and organ, nor is it built on a hot "praise band" and a dynamic preacher. A church is made by the presence of God. "I am with you."
We get confused sometimes. We don't like change. Sometimes we venture out and decide to define things that God defines differently. Sometimes we "stand for truth", not realizing we're actually standing for preference.
God makes the church. He says, "I am with you." Interestingly, He actually says, "Work, for I am with you." Before you start complaining about things in the church, remember that "former glory" is no measure; "I am with you" is.
For those of you facing similar hardships in your personal lives, it works that way in individuals, too. Artificial limitations and self-made standards limit us. On the other hand, if God is with you, you can know that the work will be valuable. Of that new, "lesser" Temple, Haggai this:
"The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former," says the LORD of hosts. "And in this place I will give peace," declares the LORD of hosts. (Hag. 2:9).Don't limit your church to your perceptions that "the old way is better." Don't define church as "the way I like it." And don't think for a minute that your work in life will be inconsequential if God is with you.