Is Your Church A True Sanctuary?

“…There he went into a cave and spent the night.

And the word of the Lord came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.” 1 Kings 19:9-13

In a world of beeping, honking, yelling, screaming, energetically debating, loud and bumping music, ringing and buzzing, the search for quiet has become somewhat of a pilgrimage.

For the past several months I’ve been craving quiet. The kind of stillness you experience when you let your mind wander until it slowly wears itself out; then you can hear nothing but the breath coming into your lungs and out in a natural rhythm.

For the past several months I’ve been craving God. Because that’s where He resides. In the stillness. In the quiet. Jesus is the Prince of Peace after all.

When there’s quiet, that’s when you can hear His gentle whisper. He talks to us all the time, singing a song of love over us (Zephaniah 3:17). But there are so many distractions, so many sounds and noises that get us to lose our focus.

And that’s where the danger is. When we get caught up in the noise, it’s harder to hear God and if it’s harder to hear God, it’s hard to follow when He’s trying to lead.

There’s a song that sings:

“In the secret, in the quiet place

In the stillness, You are there.”

With this concept in mind, it’s a wonder to me why our churches “greet” people with loud, bumping music before service. Why is it that what we call “the sanctuary” (meaning a place of refuge, safety, the holiest part of the church) fills the stillness with noise?

Why have church services become more of a concert with flashing stage lights and loud music? Why are we bringing coffee into the Lord’s place when Jesus himself drove out the cattle, doves and whatever else the people had in the temple?

God wants our hearts, not our Starbucks. 

And in a world where our senses are constantly on overdrive, wouldn’t it be refreshing to walk into a church and truly feel like you just walked into a place of refuge?

I’m not bashing our current churches. I simply want us to seriously sit down and THINK about the God we serve. From this passage in 1 Kings, we can see our Lord and Savior wasn’t in the wind, earthquake or fire (ie the glitz and flashing lights).

He was in the stillness.

He was in the quiet.

When we step into our churches, do we step into His presence?

*Featured image credit: Luke Jones

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