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Should church buildings be called what they really are?

The Sanctuary © D.P. Clarke
The Sanctuary © D.P. ClarkeThe Sanctuary © D.P. Clarke

Quasimodo swings down from the bell tower and scoops up Esmeralda just as she’s about to be executed. Returning to his former perch with her slumped under his arm he begins shouting, “Sanctuary! Sanctuary!” Anyone who’s seen The Hunchback of Notre Dame recalls this dramatic moment in the film. In the old days people may have felt chills and cried. Today one pumps their fist in the air and shouts, “Yes!”

Quasimodo was considered an idiot, but he got it right. The church building he brought her to, and the plea he made for her safety, reflect what the buildings where believers gather to worship God today really are.

In order to understand this more fully, let’s first consider who believers really are. Sinners saved by grace, or royal children of their heavenly Father who are called to conduct His business here on Earth – the ministry of reconciliation? The first reflects what they were, the second who they have become.

Quoting from the 10-week discipleship study, The Royalty Principle – a Guide to Reigning in the Kingdom of Heaven, it says, “The question becomes this; how are we to go about our Father’s business of conducting the ministry of reconciliation? After all we are exiles and strangers on Earth, and unwelcome ones at that. The answer to the question is this; our approach must be one of diplomacy. Keeping in mind how God established a legal foundation for redeeming His children, Paul supports the legality of our actions in the kingdom of darkness. In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul calls the royal children ‘ambassadors for Christ.’ This identifies the position we hold as representatives of the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth.

An ambassador is a diplomat who represents a country. The title applies to the highest ranking government official who is living in a foreign nation. And an ambassador can only be appointed by their own countries leader. As Christians, we are those high ranking government officials, diplomats who have been appointed by Lord Jesus, the Kingdom of Heavens King. Also, wherever a church is planted in the kingdom of darkness here on Earth, it becomes the embassy from which we operate.”

Church buildings are embassies of the Kingdom of Heaven. To this day, the inner room where believers gather to worship the King is still called the Sanctuary. Yet how many believers truly understand what that means? Isn’t it time we stop telling believers what they should do and start telling them who they are. Once they understand who God’s made them, they’ll grasp the truth about what He expects of them, and why, on their own.

This writer challenges those who are called to lead in the body of Christ to tell the story of Quasimodo. Also, instruct God’s children about their royal position as Ambassadors for Christ. And let them know they don’t have to be perfect before they can begin sharing this vital information with others. After all, they represent the King of kings.