In this passage, the disciples are awestruck by the magnificence of Herod's temple in Jerusalem. They were enamored by the stones, some of which were may have been as large as their small-town synagogue. Jesus brings them back to earth by foretelling the temple's demise.
I too have been caught up in the institution of the church: it's history, it's personalities, and contemporary examples of large (mega) churches. It was hard not be enthusiastic when one is a member of a church with hundreds, thousands, or even millions of members. It is easy to be caught up in the momentum of a growing church, expanding in numbers and facilities. But with large size comes structures of administration and power. If you attempt to follow Jesus and take Him at His word, sooner or later, you will find yourself in conflict with these power structures.
In my journey I have often heard the argument that an inability to find a place in the institutional church is due to a failure to get along with other believers. It is true that I am flawed as much as anyone else, inside or outside the Institution. The difference is that inside the institution people have places to hide.
The institution provides many places to hide: the offices, structure, procedures, doctrines, and statements of faith. These stones and pillars provide places of concealment. Therefore we can remain hidden and not truly known.
The institution also provides a motivation to conform. We ought to be conformed to the image of Christ and His love. Instead we are coerced by the group politic. We fear being rejected, so we play the game. We struggle to manage our appearance, not our heart.
But Jesus is the temple. (John 2:21). He is our shelter. We find our security in His Kingdom, not in our reputation or office. If we truly believe we are justified in Him, we no longer have manage appearances. We are fully and mutually accepted by each other with all our sins, failures, and weaknesses. We have the courage to be who we really are, sinners whose hope is in Jesus. We no longer need to be pious or to posture. We are free to be, we are free to love, and we are free to be loved.
If in our corporate gathering we cannot or will not do these things, then we are still enamored by the stones. The edifice may look indestructible, but remember that sand is just stones worn down over time. Let's make sure we don't build our houses on it.