These things I write to you, though I hope to come to you shortly; but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. (1 Timothy 3:14-15)
The Church Is A Pillar, Not A Pillow
When describing the New Testament church, the first-century writer’s many expressions denoting the various characteristics of the body of Christ. Paul would call the church a bride, a house, a family and in his letter to Timothy, call the church the pillar of truth. This would be a vivid description for anyone living in the Greco-Roman world of Paul’s day where buildings continued the legacy of the Greeks while incorporating innovative designs from the Romans to showcase an empire defined by its architectural accomplishments. The Doric, Ionic and Corinthian styles of columns shaped the styles of the Roman buildings. There were many columns or pillars that were simply designed for ascetic value but many were necessary for the structure to remain whole. To this illusion, Paul described the church as a body that supported the truth and established the foundation of righteousness in a community. On the surface, truth stands by itself but the character of those who profess Christ will be as pillars in a community in confirming the body of divine truth that cannot be found in the wisdom of men. The function of a pillar is to bear the load of the building helping it to remain intact and whole. While a column seems to an inactive object its function is very active in maintaining the integrity of the structure which without proper support would fail. Engineers spend countless hours defining the placement and purpose of the pillars in the building knowing the importance of its proper location and structure to the whole of the building. Truth is essential for any community to have as a stabilizing force of goodness, righteousness and the conduit of the gospel to a lost and dying world.
The church of the living God is the pillar of truth, not the pillow of compromise. One of the characteristics of the early church was the spiritual fervor of the saints in a world fully set against any effort to preach Jesus and Him crucified. Falling under the hand of persecution for many years, the early church did not diminish but grew in greater numbers. The most dangerous time for the church is when there are no objections or oppressions. Faced with the onslaught of Saul of Tarsus, the saints were scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria preaching the word. They did not go to sleep but they took the truth and built pillars everywhere. Upon these pillars of truth, churches were established and souls were saved. There was no time for apathy and dispirited hearts to fade away with indifference and indecision. As pillars of truth, the persecuted Christian’s abounded more and more. God had warned the people of Israel that when they possessed the land that flowed with milk and honey, the greatest danger they would face would be in their desire to forget God and live in their comfort of luxury. Like Israel of old, the church can turn away from its work of being pillars of truth in a community where the truth is supported, manifested and the word of God exalted to a place where the church becomes a place of pillows for apathy, sleep, and indifference. The buildings remain standing and the front porch light is on and that is all the light anyone in that community will see of the people of God. Saints in many churches show up at 11 am sharp and leave at 12:00 dull. Sermons are not listened to but slept through. Hearts are no longer on fire but smoking coals barely glowing with the love of God. The church has become a place for pillows.
There is a great need for revival in the church of Christ to retain the character of the pillar and ground of the truth. The structure of the local congregation must be refitted with the bricks of God’s word so that it will be a place of truth in the community. Too much pillow talk will not convert souls to the pure gospel of Jesus Christ. Pillar talk establishes what God has said as an authority with the Bible the only measure of authority. Paul told Timothy to preach the word because the pillar of truth is built from the mortar of preaching Christ crucified. Churches are dying from the failure to establish the teaching of the Bible and choosing to tickle the ears of the hearts that have no desire to obey God. The ease of prosperity is crumbling the bastions of truth and faith. Paul exhorts the Christians of every century to remember the function and purpose of the church as a pillar of truth that all men can build their hopes upon. Jesus concluded His great mountain sermon by showing the impact of those who build their houses on the sand. They will end in destruction. Building life upon the rock of Jesus will secure the dwelling in the love of God and create a foundation to construct the pillar of truth so that all can see. The church is the pillar of truth and will remain so until the Lord returns. Whether that pillar is evident in the community will be determined by those who choose to build pillars rather than sleep on pillows. Are you building or are you sleeping?