Follow God’s Rules in God’s House
When I was in London (many years ago), I went past Buckingham Palace. When I was in Edinburgh, Scotland, I walked past the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the Queen’s official residence in Edinburgh. At neither home did I open a door and walk in. Why? Because I had no invitation from the Queen to enter her home.
Buckingham Palace and the Palace of Holyroodhouse are royal residences. It is up to the Queen to decide who comes into her home and who does not.
Have you ever paused to consider the truth that a church is also a royal residence?
A church is, by its very nature, a house of God, or the Lord’s house. Properly understood, no one has a right to come through the doors of a church except by invitation of the King of all kings.
Fortunately for me and for you, we have been invited by God to come into his home. But there are a couple of things we need to keep in mind.
When we come into the Lord’s house, we come in not as peers of God but as subjects of the King. No matter how high and lofty one may be according to society’s standards, in the house of God each of us is but a subject of the King. It doesn’t matter whether one is a billionaire or homeless, the president of a company or the cleaning lady, when we enter the doors of a church we, are all at equal standing as subjects of the King. Who but the King alone has the authority to dictate who else may come in or who must stay out, or where another is to sit in the house of God, or what another is permitted to do. There is no room for favoritism in the Lord’s house because in his house everyone is equalized as a fellow subject of the King.
Also, we come into the Lord’s house as adopted children of our heavenly Father. It doesn’t matter what color we are or what our nationality or language is. It doesn’t matter whether we live with a disability. It doesn’t matter what animosities once divided us. It doesn’t matter what mistakes we made in the past. What matters now is only that the heavenly Father has chosen to adopt us as his own beloved children. There is no place for favoritism in a home in which the Father deeply loves each of his children.
In the house of God, all of life is to be guided by the “Royal Law,” the Law of the King. James 2:8 clarifies that the royal law is this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself. In verse 9, James adds, “But if you show partiality, you commit sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.”
In the house of God, it is God’s rules that apply, and God’s rules are that we care for each other as we would take care of our own needs, and that we show no partiality that would favor one person over another. Church is to be a place where all of God’s subjects obey his rules of love and impartiality, and where all persons are welcomed equally as God’s beloved children.
In his book Building People through a Caring Sharing Fellowship, Donald Bubna shares, “When new members join our church, I like to say: ‘Our fellowship will never be the same now that you are with us. You will flavor it. You will never be the same—for better or for worse—we will flavor you.’
“One who flavors our fellowship in a special way is an old man who has been known as something of an oddity in our community for years. Old Tom is in his eighties. He lives alone and likes to stand up whenever we have a time for sharing in the church. He is not always able to keep his thoughts straight, and sometimes rambles on at length. One of our members brought the problem before the executive committee, asking that one of the elders talk to Tom to quiet him down. Brad Coleman, a young attorney on the committee, objected. ‘If our church doesn’t have room for the old Toms, we’re in the wrong kind of church!’
“…When we held a special service for a young woman who left our congregation to be a missionary, old Tom stood up to say, ‘That young lady will make a good missionary; she always talks to me.’ I thought his comment said a great deal about what it means for a lonely old man to belong to the family of God.” (p. 32)
As James 2:8 states, “You do well if you really fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”