"Quality is never an accident. It is always the result of intelligent effort, the will to produce a superior thing." So said a Scottish writer a century ago. And it's true. Given enough time and talent, man can deal with physical matter and produce superior work — architectural masterpieces, great art, haute cuisine, technological marvels. But did you ever stop to think that God is inherently that way? "He has made everything beautiful in its time" (Eccl. 3:11). God is always in pursuit of excellence — always producing fantastic, positive achievements. And He does not have to be taught. Quality is a natural product of His mind, of His Spirit at work. Look at God's creation. What part of it is not in fine taste, perfectly suited for its purpose? Consider the wingspan of a soaring eagle, the filigree of a spider's web, the tranquility and beauty of a pine forest, the infinitely complicated but supremely useful human hand. "Then God saw everything that he had made, and indeed it was very good," says Genesis 1:31, describing the earth's renewal. Everything was excellent. God wins all the design awards. He is Creator and Builder, and He always builds to high, exacting standards.
The tabernacle and the Temple
When God commanded Moses to construct the tabernacle in the wilderness, God gave him a detailed blueprint (Heb. 8:5). Moses and the team God gave him followed that blueprint exactly. When they had finished, "Then Moses looked over all the work, and indeed they had done it; as the Lord had commanded, just so had they done it. And Moses blessed them" (Ex. 39:43).
The Ambassador Auditorium is an outstanding example of expert planning, high-quality materials and excellent craftsmanship. The building, dedicated to God's honor and glory, has justifiably been called "the finest building of its type on earth."
One of the key ingredients in their success can be seen in all of God's creations — the presence of God's Spirit, the evidence of His mind at work. God made that awesome power available to some of the children of Israel. Building the tabernacle in a remote, nomadic community was not simple. Yet through God's inspiration and leadership, the finest materials were made available to the finest craftsmen. Many objects were made of pure gold (Ex. 25). The veil that set off the holy of holies was an exquisite fabric — a work of art (Ex. 26:31). This magnificent dwelling place for Christ was constructed by artisans drawing on an indispensable and unusual tool - God's own mind. Speaking of the leading craftsman, Bezaleel, God said: "And I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship. To design artistic works, to work in gold, in silver, in bronze, in cutting jewels for setting, in carving wood, and to work in all manner of workmanship" (Ex. 31:3-5). Together with Aholiab, Bezaleel was inspired to teach others how to fashion the components of the tabernacle (Ex. 35:34-35). The result was precisely as God planned — the highest quality. Many generations later, King David wanted to build a house for God. God allowed David's son Solomon to build the house, and it, too, was based on a God-inspired blueprint (I Chron. 28:11-12). Notice David's emphasis on the fact of God Almighty's inspiration (verse 19). The Temple was seven years in construction; the number 7 in God's Word signifies perfection. When completed, the house of God stood as an architectural wonder of the world. The Queen of Sheba was awestruck by what had been accomplished (II Chron. 9:2- 4). As in the earlier tabernacle, gold predominated in the Temple, and the highest quality imported woods and materials were fashioned by specialists (II Chron. 2:3- 10). Again, the result was testimony to God's Spirit at work.
God's spiritual building
Today God is building a new temple. This temple has a blueprint, is to be fashioned of the finest materials and will be the product of God's mind at work. This temple is God's Church. Speaking of the Church, God's household, Paul wrote that we are "built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building being joined together grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a habitation of God in the Spirit" (Eph. 2:20-22). This building is still under construction, still being refined and finished. We, as God's children, are to cooperate with God in the creation of the highest quality material that can exist — godly character. God encourages us to build with the best materials, and even gives us that same indispensable and unusual tool — His own Spirit — to complete the job. Notice I Corinthians 3:10-13: "But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one's work will become manifest; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work of what sort it is." The creation of righteous, godly character requires the best materials. Our responses to life's experiences and tests have to be fashioned from gold, silver and precious stones — wood, hay and stubble will be consumed by fire. When testing comes, if our character is forged from the precious, then our response to trials will be likewise precious. Trials test our faith, and Peter encourages us, "that the genuiness of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honour and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (I Pet. 1:7). If our character is poorly built of the cheapest materials, then our reaction to pressure will be weak. A common element in the construction of both the tabernacle and Solomon's Temple was the willingness of the people (Ex. 35:29, 36:2, I Chron. 29:6-7, 9). The construction project we are involved in demands great willingness on our part, too. We have to be sure we are allowing God to fashion us. He is building "this latter temple" (Hag. 2:9) through the working of His Spirit in our lives. But we are not inanimate blocks of stone. We can react positively or negatively. We can yield to God's shaping and fashioning, or we can reject it. Christ, too, was "a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious" (I Pet. 2:4). The next verse tells us that we, too, "as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ."
A magnificent edifice
Christ has already become the cornerstone in God's spiritual temple (verse 7, Eph. 2:20), and now God the Father is offering to those truly called the rarest of privileges — that of becoming a building block placed on top of that foundation in God's house. How responsive we should be to Paul's words about the calling of the God "whose house are we if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end" (Heb. 3:6). We can be thankful that our Father is a God of quality. God is building, to rigorous standards, something that will last forever — perfect, righteous character, our Father's greatest creation. To build this character, God is fashioning our minds to be like His. Just like Bezaleel, you and I are at work with God, creating a magnificent edifice. And as with Bezaleel, God offers to fill us with "the spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge" so that we can complete the task. We should be sure that we are building according to the pattern, "as the Lord had commanded."