What a sad sight! A beautiful, ancient church—burning. My wife and I had the chance to visit Notre Dame about ten years ago. It was stunning for its huge size and beauty. Stained glass. Statues. Gargoyles. Paintings. 800 years of history. To think that Christians so many years ago dedicated so many resources to building a church. It’s no surprise that so many people are saddened by the fire.
But, ultimately, it shouldn’t surprise us. For all its beauty, Notre Dame is still a man-made building. What happens to everything we human beings do and build? “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall…” (Isaiah 40:7). Does watching a church burn let us reflect on how frail and temporary we are? We love to highlight our accomplishments. We praise our achievements. We’re impressed by what we can build. Even a church building like Notre Dame can become more about human achievement than God’s grace in Jesus.
Remember that our faith isn’t based on any building, it’s based on God’s Word and what it tells us about Jesus. “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever” (Isaiah 40:8). Everything we do and build will ultimately fall, but God’s promises to us in Jesus will never, ever fail. No fire can change the fact that Jesus loved you so much that he died on the cross to forgive all of your sins. No fire can change the fact that Jesus rose from the dead and promises eternal life to all who believe in him. Don’t let your focus this Holy Week rest on any building. Our trust is in Jesus our Savior and his Word, which is the one thing that stands forever!
“Built on the Rock the Church shall stand even when steeples are falling. Crumbled have spires in ev’ry land; bells still are chiming and calling, calling the young and old to rest, but above all the soul distressed, longing for rest everlasting.”
“Surely in temples made with hands God, the Most High, is not dwelling. High above earth his temple stands, all earthly temples excelling. Yet he who dwells in heav’n above chooses to live with us in love, making our bodies his temple.”
Christian Worship, Hymn 529, verses 1-2.