“Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.”
Have you ever watched little children indulge in shameless self-promotion with each other? They are adept at the game of “one-upmanship” from an early age. As they boast back and forth about their abilities and accomplishments, their boasts quickly progress from stretching the truth, to pure fiction, to ridiculous exaggerations: “I can eat 10 cookies. I can eat a whole box of cookies. I can eat a whole case of cookies.” You’ve seen it before. You probably indulged in it when you were little.
The insecurity that leads us to want to impress others this way doesn’t leave us when we grow up. Adults may be more careful not to stretch the truth about themselves to the point that it becomes unbelievable, but our thirst for attention, recognition, and superiority can foster some nasty rivalries and lead to divisive behavior. When we are insecure about our own value and identity, we are tempted to find those things at the expense of others. Our Lord does not tolerate it when his own people trash his house–not the buildings where we gather to worship him, but the gathered people in whose hearts he has chosen to live by faith.
“…for God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.” This is an impressive statement. And this is not boasting or exaggeration. This truly makes us important. We sinful human beings can receive no higher honor than to have the almighty God cleanse us of our sins to make us holy, and then live in our hearts himself. There is no more prestigious position to hold than that your own body is God’s home. There is no promotion, no “up” from there. The Christians in Corinth to whom Paul was writing all had this in common. As a group, God had made them his home.
So he lives in and among us today. It puts how we treat each other in a whole new light when we remember that the people sitting around me, the people taking the opposite side of an issue at a church meeting, the people who always seem to rub me the wrong way, are together the holy of holies where God himself is living by his Spirit. It puts how we value ourselves in a whole new light when we realize that God’s house is not just a place I go on Sundays. It’s who I am. It’s who we are. God lives in us, and that makes everything else we are tempted to use to feel good about ourselves seem insignificant.