You Are The Temple:
A Sermon to the Congregation of the First
Church of Cyberspace by Stephen C. Rose
you know you are the temple of God and that the Spirit
of God dwells in you? (KJV -- mildly revised.)
-- 1st Corinthinas 3:16
Cyberspace is offering the world another chance to figure
out what the curious advent of one Jesus Christ actually
Wherever you may be reading this, a few blocks from my apartment in New York City or
halfway around the globe, whether you have never heard of Jesus Christ or have simply said
Sayonara to organized religion, cyberspace says, Let's try again.
Let's try again to say what religion is finally all about.
Let's try to say why it matters to you.
Well, it is clear enough that this preacher believes Jesus Christ is what religion is
about, but if you are thinking it is because Jesus beats the competition, think again.
The reason Jesus Christ is important, and why he does "beat the competition,"
is because he came then, and comes now, to abolish religion as the world has known it. The
clue is in the incendiary sentence above: You are the temple of God. Jesus brought good
news, not old news.
What is this about? Well, it is about many things: Your life, what you do with it, how
you look at yourself and others. It is about what is decent and what is not. It is about
And if you happen to be at a stage in life when nothing seems to be working and you do
not know where to turn or what to do, it is about that too.
I have called the advent of Jesus Christ curious. It is curious that God would come in
a particular person at a particular time. And that the Bible would claim that this Jesus
was born of a Virgin called Mary. And that his best friend John (writer of the Fourth
Gospel) would claim that he created the world and was one from the beginning with God.
What does all this mean? It means that only one person among others gets truth right --
in the same way that only one password will get you online.
It means that Jesus is special because, though he is fully human, he is fully divine.
Where have you heard that before? In the language of gurus! Guru's claim divinity but they
do not have it. Why do Christians claim Jesus did? Surely we cannot "prove" all
of the things said about Jesus. When John says Jesus was the Word and the Word was with
God and the Word was God and that through him "all things" were made, you may
ask if I have the cosmological credentials to tell you such things.
But there "is" proof and Jesus brings the proof. Not me or anyone else. And
you can have immediate access to it -- right on your monitor. (If you are thinking this is
a not-so-subtle pitch for one or another religious organization, think again! My only
purpose is to show that the good news of Jesus makes sense right at the cutting edge of
the world that is presently evolving. Right here online. My reference is available to all:
It is the Bible interpreted as Jesus interpreted it -- as a living and evolving
body of understanding.)
The proof Jesus brought relates directly to you, and to everyone else in the world. But
I can see a big cloud forming. It is the cloud of deja vu. Jesus and church are
synonymous. There are eight zillion churches out there and even more than that if you
count TV. They all seem to want something. They seem to be in competition with other
religions. In short, where is the beef when fallible partial churches are entrusted with
the message? You shop around and take your choice!
If you are still here, this is the whole point. Cyberspace is offering us a chance to
look at the choice again -- beyond past notions of church. Jesus came to abolish religion
and make *us* -- me and you -- the true temple of God's Spirit.
Here are ten ways Jesus did this:
1. He taught us to pray directly to Abba -- the familiar for God the Father -- and this
direct contact is more important than any external observance or public prayer.
2. He said what we "do" is more important as worship than strict observances
on the Sabbath. He did this by claiming Lordship of the Sabbath, by healing on the Sabbath
and by consistently affirming people whether they observed the Sabbath or not.
3. He gave us Beatitudes which are a way of living, not an invitation to attend the
Temple. These Beatitudes emphasize characteristics that have little to do with what
religions of all stripes offer. They are about being permanently insecure (like us!),
being mad at various injustices (like us!), suffering through this and that (like us!).
They are about living peace and mercy, not about finding security in a protected religious
4. In fact, Jesus physically attacked the Temple in Jerusalem and declared that it
should be a house of prayer for "all" nations. He thereby abolished for all time
the business-foundations of organized religion.
5. Abba (Jesus's name for God) tells us to listen to Jesus on the Mount of
Transfiguration. Jesus turns down Peter's suggestion that "shrines" be built to
commemorate the great event. Jesus is a complete iconoclast when it comes to all the
idolatry we create around celebrity.
6. John the Baptist was Jesus's sort of prophet. When Jesus went to be baptized by
John, it was clearly understood that from then on baptism would be something that only God
could perform -- namely a fire or Spirit baptism that would fall upon individuals without
the intermediary work of priests and religious institutions.
7. Similarly the Last Supper, when Jesus broke bread with his disciples, was a simple
meal in an upper room -- more akin to a "house church" than some organized
8. Jesus came to fully vindicate his good news and to fully eradicate
both idolatry and the hypocrisy of organized religion. (Did I forget to say, The Good News
is that God's Way is at hand, doable and should become normal human behavior,
universally?) This REVOLUTION required that Jesus attack the Temple and incur the wrath of
religious leaders. Also that he refuse to bow down to the Roman state. Jesus offers no
simple moral solutions to problems that can only be solved by a massive change -- he cuts
to the chase and says we need a new spirit and that only Abba can give it to us. He
eliminated the middle man.
9. Jesus did not merely suffer and die at the hands of religion and state, he did so
willingly and with full confidence that his abolition of the religion of the past would be
victorious. This confidence took the form of belief that he would end up back with Abba.
And that those who "believed" would receive the crucial gift of the Holy Spirit.
This was the baptism of fire John referred to.
10. A great cloud of witnesses to the truth of Jesus saw him "risen,"
experienced the "inrushing power of the Spirit" and gathered in small caring
groups to marvel at the wonder they had seen and touched. They sang and prayed and
"shared all things in common."
Now it is two-thousand years after the fact and do you know what? Abba keeps giving us
chances to understand what really happened, because Abba is merciful and wondrously
thorough. If the world did not "get it" then, perhaps the cyber-world will!
Second chances are always given -- in the moral realm. When we enslave and abuse each
other, some who understand Jesus or "implicitly understand him" (like many of
the people he met who were not members of any religious organization) stand up for his
championship of the child, of the abused woman or man, of the poor and the sick.
I could list another ten or one hundred things that all say one thing: We are being
given another chance. Right here. Right before our eyes. Right now. The chance is both a
burden and a feather in our hand.
Offered: A "living" relationship with Abba -- who is in heaven. Seriously.
That is what this is about. Jesus opens the door to this helping, nurturing, one-to-one
relationship. You can begin it on your side right now with one simple act of prayer.
Don't you need to repent? Get real. What is modernity but a vast list of things we need
to be sorry about?
We repent the minute we can say of the One who created and meant the world to be decent
and good, "Holy is Your Name." Not the corporation, the leisure world, the USA,
the Indians, my physical fitness. Get real. We repent when we acknowledge that God loves
and cares about the growth and development of every creature on earth, past, present, and
future. That makes everyone special and salvation universal.
It reduces us to a proper sense of our own worth and a proper analysis of our prideful
Jesus came to do one thing. He comes to you NOW in Cyberspace hoping that somehow,
through this curious medium, you will understand that you are, in prospect, a temple of
Not the steeple down the street or the evangelist on the tube. You, friend. It stands
or falls with each of us, with our taking responsibility for others, in practicing
awareness of Abba's grace and power, in the knowing the indwelling Spirit, in daily
exposure to what Jesus has to say.
Reject churches entirely -- never go on Sunday? That is not the point. YOU are the
temple, so what is a church?
At best, it should be a place where you are resourced as the first witnesses were: A
place where you receive the Spirit, share all things, follow the way of Jesus. Wherever
this is done, there is a church!
When this is actually done, the church will also be you. And today's religious
institutions will be turned inside out, producing responsible Christ people.
You are the temple. You are the pearl of great price. You are the field. And we
together are pioneers in a church without boundaries.
That is what I assume the First Church of Cyberspace is all about.