The Church On Fire

Yesterday in Paris the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral burned…

People from all over the world watched as the spire with ‘the bells of Notre Dame’ fell. Some mourned, some cried, some prayed and some sang.

There were those who mourned for the building–an 800-year-old structure that seemed to be one of the most recognizable and revered churches in the world. To anyone who appreciates architecture, history, and even stained glass, it was a beautiful structure.

But, of course, it was more than that.

This was a building which was a church…a place where millions have visited, and many thousands have worshiped.

For some, the symbol of Notre Dame represents more than a specific Roman Catholic cathedral in a specific city…it represents the Church, in general. The fact that it burned…is symbolic of what’s going on in ‘The Church’ all over the world.

Whether you are Roman Catholic, or Protestant, these are tumultuous times in the life of the Church…and I believe that, what the Lord would ask us who believe is this: ‘What are you worshipping?’

It is possible, after all, to ‘worship’ THE BUILDING…and all it represents–without really ‘worshiping’ the Lord who is the Reason for the building.

It is possible to ‘worship’ RELIGION, and all it represents…and to miss the One that our religion was founded upon.

I believe one message from God for those of us who are believers today is that He is not confined to a building!  

God, after all, is Lord of the Universe–He cannot be contained in a building!

Therefore, He is worthy of our worship, praise, surrender and obedience no matter what happens to our buildings.

This week, Christians around the world will celebrate the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.

He is the Lord of Creation, the One who gave His life to pay for our sins, and the One who gives us LIFE–Full Life and and Eternal Life–through faith in Him. He is the One who deserves our focus, our prayers, our full-on-worship.

Colossians 1:15-20:

“The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”

Those are the truths that we are called to fix our minds on today…and That is the reality that enables us to worship Him fully–not just during ‘Holy Week’, but at all times!

No building can contain Him, and He is worthy of our praise and worship everywhere we go.

The burning of a beautiful, historical cathedral during holy week can do one good thing: It can remind us that our hope is not in our church buildings, and our hope is not even in our religion. Our hope is in the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the grace of God, took our sins upon Himself and paid for them with His life. He conquered sin, death and the grave…and HE–and He ALONE–deserves our all-out-worship!

May we focus on  Him today!

 

 

 

One-Legged Ladders and Easter

One-legged ladders: Ineffective and dangerous!

I admit that I’ve never tried to use a one-legged ladder–a ladder where a portion of one of the legs is missing. However, I have tried to use an uneven ladder, where one leg is on the ground, and the other leg is a few inches off the ground, because of a hill. Uneven ladder.jpgEven with pieces of wood underneath, it’s dangerous an un-advisable.

Everyone knows that using a ladder in this way is unwise. It would be even more foolish to try to use a ladder where the lower foot of one side is missing. That ladder would rightfully be called ‘broken’ and should be tossed out.

We recently celebrated what most call ‘Easter’–the day that celebrates the single most momentous occasion in the history of the world: The miraculous resurrection of Jesus!

Now, I’m aware that there are many who don’t celebrate this–for many reasons. Some believe in other religions, some believe that ‘miraculous’ things, by definition, can’t happen–and therefore, this event is simply folklore. Others believe that Jesus of Nazareth never really existed.

If you fit into one of those categories, this blog is not for you. Save yourself time, and stop reading.

Others fall into 2 groups: Group 1 believes it all–and celebrates accordingly; Group 2 believes that Jesus lived, did remarkable things, taught profound truth, and then died via crucifixion…but don’t believe in the resurrection.

If you fall into Group 2 I want to remind you of something.

Celebrating Good Friday without celebrating Resurrection Sunday is like using a one-legged ladder. It’s unbalanced, dangerous, and makes no sense!

This is the “Jesus Christ, Superstar” version of these events. Jesus Christ Superstar

Many of you may have watched the live version Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Musical on Sunday night. Although done with excellence and creativity, I was reminded, as it ended, that it presented Jesus as a conflicted, tormented man who died for a noble cause, but was misguided in doing so. The last scene in the musical shows Jesus on the Cross…an important scene but NOT the end!

It conspicuously avoids the resurrection.

Jesus, it must be said, was NOT ‘conflicted’. Human, to be sure…but He knew His Mission!

Jesus knew it was coming, and He knew why:

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep… The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” (John 10:11, 17-18)

Again…

“Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!” (John 12:27-28)

And…

“The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life.” (Matthew 27:22-23)

Then, finally, after He’d died,

“Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”

When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet.  And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?”  They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence.

He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you:Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”

Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day,  and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.” (Luke 24:36-48)

The point is this: If you’re going to tell the story of Jesus, you MUST tell the whole story–including the resurrection!

If Jesus isn’t raised, then none of this makes any sense. In that case, He died as a misguided man.

C.S. Lewis wrote,

 “You must make your choice.  Either this man was,Trilemma and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (1952; Harper Collins: 2001) 51-52.

It is important to note, that IF Jesus merely died on the cross, but then stayed dead, then he was no different than many other self-deluded ‘messiah’s’ throughout history.

IF, on the other hand, He rose from the dead, then that shows that He was who He said He was, and His death did have the power to be the ‘atoning sacrifice’ (see Romans 3:25; 1 John 2:2), and make forgiveness, and Eternal Life, possible for us who believe!

That is a HUGE difference!

The Cross is Mighty–but only because of the Resurrection!