Why did we just introduce this song at Harbor Mid-City? It’s not just because last month we introduced an English song, so this month is a new Spanish one. It’s not just because it’s an epic ballad that invokes worship by its builds and cuts. It’s not just because I liked it. All of these things are true, but they miss the point, and church, we’re going to miss the point if we don’t understand Spanish, or don’t try to figure out what this song is actually talking about, what it truly means, and how it changes everything.
The first verse talks about the greatness of God, how majestic he is, and how the earth is a footstool beneath him. It paints the beginnings of the unfinishable picture of God’s bigness and sovereignty. The second verse is much of the same. God dwells in unapproachable light and holds the universe in his hands. An impressive description of our Lord, akin to those found in the Psalms. This leads us into the first chorus.
It asks the question, “Who could build a dwelling place, a sanctuary for God?” With the picture of the greatness and infinitude of God painted in the verses, this is an obvious question. Who could physically do this? But it also speaks to the human desire to know and be near to the Creator of the universe by any means necessary. If only we could build a place for God to live, he might stay near to us, his goodness and faithfulness drawn near by our efforts. The longing it taps into is much like Peter’s at Jesus’ transfiguration. He wanted to put up tents to keep Moses and Elijah with him on the mountain, because he was in the midst of the miraculous and did not want the moment to end. Logical. But this fuels an unhealthy belief common in followers of Christ; the belief that we can do enough to keep God Almighty near to us, in favor of us, graceful to us. That’s not our job, but God’s decision. The bridge.
“You choose to inhabit living stones
In weak people you show your glory
You raise up the cornerstone
We are your church, your home”
The song has been asking the futile question, Who could build a place for the uncontainable, unending God to live? But the beauty of the gospel is found in the futility of the question, and the way God has fulfilled the answer. Our great God has chosen to live in us. How incredible is that?! The infinite God lives in us weak, broken, hurting people, and delights in doing so! He is our new beginning and enables us to have hope for tomorrow by his power. God is not far but near, having selected each one of us personally to be a place for him to live on this earth. If this is true, then when you look into the face of another follower of Jesus, you are looking at a person full of the living, creative, merciful, beautiful God! Think about that next time we ask you to greet someone new on a Sunday morning!
Church, let this reality transform us. Let it give us courage, hope, joy, and peace. You’re allowed those things and are lavished with them as a son or daughter of God; enter into them! And let the last chorus be our prayer as a church, our commitment to our God and to each other, to let ourselves be filled with our God and to share him with everyone around us in faith, hope, and love.
“We will be a dwelling place
A better space where your presence can rest
We will build a dwelling place
We will be a sanctuary for you”