For the past 2 days many of us have followed updates on the tragic fire at the 850-year old Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. I’ve had a fascination with France and the French language since 2004, while I was still in High School, and French was one of my main subjects for 3 years when I completed my degree. Combined with my love for history and historic places, this tragedy has touched my heart, and I am saddened that I will never get to visit this amazing architectural wonder in its original form.
Yet, for the past 2 days I have been constantly reminded of Scriptures as I followed the news. In sharing this, I don’t wish to belittle this tragedy in any way, or imply that it’s insignificant or that God doesn’t care about it. I believe He cares. These Bible verses have simply quite significantly come to my mind as I followed the progress of this event, and I hope it will encourage each one reading it.
For someone who has never visited France or the Notre Dame before, some of the photos that I saw online seemed unidentifiable, without enough context. Until I saw this photo above. As I saw the landmark Eiffel Tower in the background, smoke rolling up into the sky, I was reminded of the following Scripture:
“Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made by hands, as the prophet says, ‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me, says the Lord, or what is the place of my rest? Did not my hand make all these things?’ ”
~ Acts 7:48-50 ~
“The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man…”
~ Act 17:24 ~
What a terrible state we would be in if our amazing Creator-God was limited to living in man-made buildings? My mind keeps thinking that, if my God had been limited to houses made by human hands, this 850-year old cathedral might have been a quite significant house for Him.
But He doesn’t.
God is the Creator of each tree that had been used as beams in the Notre Dame, each stone and the iron from which the nails were made. He created the humans who planned and built it, and gave each of them the inspiration and talents to do it.
But He is omnipresent – everywhere at every moment, intimately involved in everything and every person He created. He lives in Heaven and everywhere on Earth, and everywhere in between. (See Acts 7 above.) He lives in us when we accept Him and He stays (“dwells”) with us when we open the doors of our lives to Him. (Revelation 3:20) He gives us His Holy Spirit to help us wherever we go.
No, my God is not limited to buildings, how impressive they may be.
“Only what’s done for Christ will last…”
This picture started circulating shortly after the fire had been put out, with plenty of inspiration going with it. It reminded me of a poem by C.T. Studd, by the name of Only One Life. The final two lines of each stanza throughout the poem is:
Only one life,’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.
The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 3:9-17 that we are God’s temples. See the picture above as a spiritual picture, and as you read the Scripture below, keep in mind that it’s not a reflection on the physical building of the Notre Dame, but that the above photo is a picture of God’s spiritual Truth:
“… ye are God’s building. According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.”
It’s a hard Word to read this morning. We each have the responsibility to take care of God’s Holy temple – ourselves: body, soul and spirit – and to live a life that will withstand the test of time. If our lives are not filled with acts of kindness, love, compassion and forgiveness – just like Jesus showed us through His Life – we might be saved and in heaven with Him one day, but leaving no legacy of the One Who saved us for future generations.
I do believe that the builders of the Notre Dame built something that withstood the test of time. A building that stood for 850 years is very, very impressive, and no small feat! But what is left in the ruins points us to God Who came down to die for His creation, suffering incredible damage to His Body so that, after the fire, we may live eternally in a city made of pure gold, with our very Creator.
As we see more of the Notre Dame fire in the news, may you be reminded of the Cross that withstood the test of all time, and the love of your Saviour that suffered death and hell to spend eternity with you.