God hates a particular kind of incongruity with a passion. He detests the notion that we can create a liturgy, or a worship space, or a tall steeple, that somehow masks or deals with sin. But if such things could deal with sin, then Jesus didn’t have to die.
“When ye come to appear before me, Who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts? Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; The new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; It is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: They are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them” (Isaiah 1:12–14).
The night of His betrayal, Jesus was agonizing over what He was about to experience. He prayed that if there was any way to have this cup pass from Him, then that is what He would like to do. Nevertheless, He said, whatever the Father willed, that He would do. If we could deal with sin architecturally, then the Father turned down Christ needlessly.
The world is filled with architectural triumphs that were created because men were trying to deal with guilt. The results are impressive in one way, but an utter failure in another.
We want to build a sanctuary because we have been forgiven, and not in order to commend ourselves to God in order to get forgiveness. We cannot buy the grace of God. We can overflow with the grace of God, and we can testify to the grace of God, and we can rejoice in His mercy by means of brick and stone.
We already know that tormented and driven men can do an awful lot. When we look at the accomplishments of many men, we can almost see the lash behind them. But what can free men and free women do? What can gratitude accomplish?
So let the stones cry out.