She smiled as, without a word, she took off my hat and handed it to me (hats off, to me!). We were in a building. A Church building and it wasn’t during a church Service, but still… Silly me. I should have known better!(?) Didn’t I know it’s the customary thing to do, when, as she said, we are “…in the Building”?…
My head is just like Elijah’s, so I wear a hat all the time ( News flash: 42 kids were mauled to death by two mad mother bears after they made fun of Elijah’s bald head.). I wear a hat to protect me from the sun, to protect me from the cold, and to protect me from those kids. I forget that I have one on most of the time. When I don’t have one on people wonder who I am. I would be totally unrecognized if I was hatless and had shaved off my beard! …
I kept my hat off. Was I supposed to give “… custom to whom custom was due.”? (Rom 13:7) Was custom due here? No hats in the Temple? I couldn’t help but wonder about hat customs, and since I don’t want to be accused of “talking through my hat”, I dug up some research on hat customs, and… I won’t keep that research “under my hat”. Instead, I’ll share it:
Hat customs go way back. Some hat customs go back to Medieval times, like “hats [helmets] off”. If you were a knight in shining armor meeting another knight in shining armor it meant you had no hostile intent. “Doffing your hat” and saluting, comes from flipping up you helmet visor to show respect and show that you were not a threat. Shaking hands with your right hand, your sword hand, meant the same thing. Digging even further back, I discovered this old custom: Jewish law required men to cover their heads as a sign of respect and reverence for G‑d when praying, studying Torah, saying a blessing or entering a synagogue, and priests in the Temple were instructed to wear a head covering. There. An older custom puts hats back on the head…
Customs: Some fade away , while others like the “weaponless” right hand shake, stay. Some grow old and die. Most we give little thought to. I didn’t to her’s, until I was put in my place; until I was given “my hat in my hand”!
Jesus many times broke with old (religious) customs. Like the day Jesus was in the Temple in Jerusalem, a temple 46 years in the making. (If indeed he had a hat, did he have his “hat in his hand” in the Temple or did he have his hat [properly] on his head?) His Father’s house was a central part of the Old Custom(the Old Covenant). It was considered to be the dwelling place of God. And Jesus was angry, because his Father’s dwelling place was being desecrated. He was angry but, unlike mad mauling mother bears, Jesus, with controlled anger fashioned a whip with the intent of driving the money changing thieves out of his Father’s house. He was consumed by it. He was on a mission. He was about to upset the tables, about to “turn the tables” on an old custom and institute an astonishing new one.
After his mission was accomplished the Jews asked Jesus what evidence he could give to show them he had the authority to do the things he had done. His answer unveils something New, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” He wasn’t speaking of a building. A temple built with human hands. He was speaking of himself. His human body was the first human temple, the first to be filled by the Holy Spirit, the prototype new dwelling place of God.
God was revealing through his Son his mysterious plan, hidden until that time, but conceived from the foundations of the world, to make the hearts of men and women His new dwelling place. God does not dwell in [buildings] made by human hands.” (Acts 7:48) God now dwells in the hearts of man.
What do you think would happen if Jesus came today and visited one of our Buildings that we call Churches? (Would he have his hat on his head or would he come “hat in hand”? Or would he have a whip!?!) What would Jesus say if he were standing in one of our Buildings made with hands? Would he need to gently remind us (without the whip!):
“Have you forgotten? Or do you not yet understand?”
Help me out here. I’ve got questions: Do we not yet understand that his New Covenant moves us beyond customs; the mere customs of men? If we are the church, if we are the temple, why do we continue to ask this “normal” question of God’s people, “Where do you go to church?”. By doing so are we not still buying into the old custom that the Building is the Temple, that “Church” is a place that we go to? How can the Body of Christ only be some place that we go to, rather than something that we are? When we “go to Church” why do we still hear things like, “Welcome to the house of God.” or, “It is so good to be in the house of the Lord today!”, if, we really are the house, the temple of God? (1 Cor 6:19)
“Do [we] not yet know that our body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in us, and whom we have [received] from God…”? (1 Peter 2: 4,5) “…you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house, a temple of the Spirit, to be a holy priesthood…” So, whenever and where ever we, as his temples, gather in the name of Jesus, we together can become a living temple for, and the embodiment of, the very presence of God.
And that brings me to the really BIG question: “Can a temple wear a hat?!”