The above news story is about a lawsuit that is being appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court concerning a public high school graduation held in the sanctuary of a church building. The Appeals Court said that this was an unconstitutional endorsement of a religion which is why it is being appealed to the USSC.
Rife throughout this story is the prevailing attitude of many in this country that the building is synonymous with the church. The very first sentence is this: “Can a public high school hold its graduation ceremony in a local church?” The true and correct answer is “No!,” but not “no” because it is unconstitutional. It is “no” because the building is not a church; people are the church. So, unless the ceremony can be held inside a person’s physical body, it is impossible to hold a ceremony like this inside the church because the church is people.
I know that there have been times where I have gone a bit militant on this whole issue, but this perspective is rife throughout our culture. I believe this perspective has done severe damage to the identity of the church and its ability to adjust and change as her Lord and Master would have her do so. This perspective has caused a strong inflexibility. It has also caused what I call a “compartmentalization” of the Christian life. “Going to church” is something that is done on Sunday. It is an obligation to be fulfilled. The rest of the week is to do whatever one feels like doing, even if it is in total contradiction to what occurs on Sunday morning.
In the article, someone mentions this: “Christians should ‘stop and think about how it would feel if their high school graduation ceremonies were held in a Jewish temple or Muslim mosque, where diplomas were handed out beneath a looming Star of David or Islamic crescent,’ said Ayesha Khan, legal director for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which represented the winning plaintiffs.”
This would be my response to Ayesha Khan: if a mosque, synagogue or temple is the best physical space available for this type of ceremony and those who own said facility are willing to allow its use, then I have no problem with it being used, no matter the symbols visible. It’s only a building, a facility.
I believe that the true and proper identity of the church as the temple of the Holy Spirit must be regained in order for the church to move ahead into the mission God has for it. Without that identity, the enemy will find it easy to get our focus onto things which are nice but not necessary for who we are and what we do.
Those who follow God together are the living stones of the church; we make up the temple; we make up the Body of Christ.
This perspective must be recaptured.