April 25, 2019 at 6:00 AM
This is what the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris looked like about three weeks before the fire. (Photo by Dan Breen)
By Dan Breen
If you’ve followed recent news events you’ve seen the images of the massive fire that devastated the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Constructed in the 1100s, it’s one of oldest and most historic Christian gathering sites in the world.
In addition to its opulent structural engineering, the cathedral is adorned with dozens of exquisite sculptures, brilliant paintings and stunning stained glass windows. It’s no wonder 13 million people visit it each year.
Less than three weeks before the fire, my wife, Kristin, and I were among that number, touring the cathedral on our way home from the Luke Society Africa Regional Conference in Senegal. We marveled at everything from the giant pillars to the intricacies in every detail. We were in awe of its splendor and history. Thankfully, many of the cathedral’s historical artifacts survived the fire.
The reality, however, is that stripped of all its beauty and rich history, Notre Dame is a building much the same as your church and mine. Concrete, steel and wood. A building tells only a small part of a much grander story. If we value the Christian church by its size, cosmetics or visitor tallies, we’re not only off the mark, but our arrows are aimed in the wrong direction.
The Christian church’s most precious value is found in the nail-pierced hands of the one who hung on Calvary’s cross and in the empty tomb that could not contain him. The story of Jesus Christ has persevered for more than 2,000 years, and as Christ himself told Peter in Matthew 16:18, “On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” It’s reassuring to know nothing the devil can do will stop the Church.
It’s the same story of victory that Luke Society directors Rev. Prem and Dr. Pushpa Rout tell to those waiting to receive mosquito nets in India. Dr. Bourama Sidibe shares it with children in line for vaccinations in Mali. Dr. Assoumane Mahamadou projects it through the Jesus Film in his waiting room in Niger. Dr. Yeny Agila de Pinos reads it from her Bible to patients in Ecuador.
If you’re a Christian, you’re called to be the Church, and to be a willing vessel of the Holy Spirit’s indestructible story. You may not have to leave the country, or your state or even your community. The Spirit might be calling you to share Jesus with a family member in your own living room.
The victory story of Jesus Christ is more precious and opulent than a thousand cathedrals. Helping even one person see Christ is worth far more than 13 million who see the church as nothing more than concrete, steel and wood. Will you be the Church to someone today?