And they shall make an ark of shittim wood: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof. (Exodus 25:10)
After God told Moses what materials would be needed for the Tabernacle in the wilderness, He went into the construction details. What is interesting is that God did not start with the outer structure. He started with the ark of the covenant, the innermost part of the Tabernacle.
It is God’s nature to work from the inside out. Could He have started with how to build the structure around the ark? Of course. But whenever God deals with us, He always deals with our heart first. Like the ark, the heart is where we meet with God and the heart is where He speaks to us. While the exterior is important, it’s just an empty shell without a heart that is wholly committed to God.
Religion is focused on externals. True faith in God is focused on relationship. Our actions, the externals that everyone sees, grow out of that relationship. A person focused on religion goes to church to be seen of men. A person focused on his relationship with God goes to church to meet and fellowship with God. It is something done out of reverence and obedience, not fear and duty.
Can those two very different people go to the same church? Yes, they can, but like the Pharisee and the publican, one will go home self-satisfied that they have done their duty and the other will go home blessed.