Where does God live? We are no longer living in the times of the Temple or the Tabernacle, when it was easy to detect God's presence by the cloud and the fire. And we have already established that He doesn't live - and never has lived - in the church; the church is the place where believers come to encourage one another. We say that He lives in our hearts, and this sounds right, but in practical terms, too many of us are living like this is not true; others interacting with us would have a hard time saying that Jesus lives in us.
So where does that leave us?
It leaves us doing the thing that humans have been thinking themselves good at since all the way back in Genesis 3 - trying to be crafty about things.
Here's what I think happens, and I confess that I am just as guilty of this more often than I want to be as anyone else: what we've done is to build God a Temple in our church-going hearts.
We have carved out a special place in the depths of our soul where we put Jesus and just let the smoke and fire burn as much as it wants right there. We have set up a sort of altar, an establishment where we go within ourselves when we "need" Jesus. Or perhaps, when we "want" Him. Much as we have created compartments in our consciousness for things like work or home or family or play, we have put God in this specific place that, when we need religious advice or spiritual encouragement or soul healing, we go digging around in that space until we find of Him what we need.
Occasionally, we bring offerings. Sacrifices. Just the way that Israel always did. It's this place in our soul that we convince ourselves perpetually smells like "an aroma pleasing to the Lord," filled with all of our holy and wonderful and sacred things and all of our worship and all of the other "religious" things we do.
And we tell ourselves that God is happy here.
We pat ourselves on the back and applaud ourselves for having made Him something lovely, a perfectly acceptable place to dwell within us.
Except...that's not what He wants. There's nowhere in the story of God where a tiny Temple in the vastness of the depraved human heart is God's plan for dwelling in us. There's nowhere that He says this would be a great idea, to make Him small enough to fit in whatever box we find convenient for the way that we're living.
Still, we call ourselves crafty and think ourselves righteous, despite the fact that we are neither.
This is the truth in which we are living, though. This is where we are. We are a church-going people with tiny Temples in the recesses of our hearts where we tuck God until we "need" Him, all the while continuing to declare that yes, sure, of course He lives in us. Look, there He is! Waving from the window of His Temple.
What's that? I can't hear You, Lord.
Oh, I'll stop by later, and You can talk to me then.