Biblical wisdom literature often encourages us to prefer one of two offered paths, when there are actually 4 possibilities. For example, we are told that it is better to have a little money and fear of the Lord than to have lots of wealth and big trouble with it. (Prov 15:16) We are also told that thin soup and thick love is better than a sumptuous meal and hatred around the table (15:17) The old gospel hymn frames it this way “I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold.” This is a very biblical way of thinking. But we must remember there are 4 possibilities
You could not have Jesus and not have silver or gold
You could not have Jesus and have silver or gold
You could have Jesus and not have silver or gold
You could have Jesus and have silver or gold.
It is the point of the wisdom comparison to make us realise that the fourth option is not nearly as easy as it looks. This is why Jesus warned about camels and the eye of the needle. So the comparison statement when talking about a building- “it would be better to have a vibrant church that meets in a community hall than to have a duddy-dead one meeting in an architectural glory.”
We say this, not because we are limiting ourselves to these 2 options and only one righteous choice. But rather to cause ourselves to remember there are 4 options and 2 righteous choices. The instruction to think in the binary way is so that we keep our priorities exactly where they ought to be.
It is relatively easy to keep these priorities now because we meet in a community hall. But as we discuss what it is we are going to build (there has been lots of discussion) – our theology and our understanding of the specific call of God on us as a local church is dictating a certain type of building, and this is healthy. When we get into that new building, we need to remember that the building will start to demand a certain type of theology, that will not be so healthy. God’s wisdom of keeping the right priorities in the right order will enable us to build all that God is leading us to do.
(Some thoughts borrowed from Doug Wilson “Let the stones cry out” 2014)
The Village Church Building Team