Because the church is the people I have generally referred to the building where the Lord’s people meet as the church house. Though we do not read of church buildings in the New Testament, they provide a place for church meetings and activities. But God does not dwell in church buildings.
Then where does God dwell? Paul said, “The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man” (Acts 17:24). Jesus explained, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him” (John 14:23). Paul prays that you may be “strengthened with power though his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith . . . that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:16-17, 19). “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). As incredible as it may seem, God makes his home in individual believers.
Not only does God make his home in individual believers, the community of believers provides a residence for God as well. “We are the temple of the living God; as God said, ‘I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God and they shall be my people” (2 Corinthians 6:16). “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” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17). We are “members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit” (Eph 2:19-22).
Instead of shrines, statues or temples, God dwells in five foot six inch women and six foot tall men and in fourteen-year-old young people. He dwells individually in those of us who are believers and Christ-followers. He also dwells in the midst of twenty believers meeting in a small congregation as well as among a thousand believers lifting their hearts in worship. The pantheist and New Agers worship the god within claiming to be god. The Christian worships the eternal living God who chooses to live within believers.
What a privilege to be the home for God—for God to dwell within us! What an incentive to glorify God with our lives and in our church fellowships!
(Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version, I have added the italics.)