Building a Cathedral

“You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”

Matthew 24:2
Image by Denis Doukhan from Pixabay

Cathedral Fire

Within hours of the start of the fire that destroyed much of the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, millions of dollars had been pledged to the rebuilding.

Also within hours of the start of the fire, social media was lit up with comments, criticisms, and prayers concerning Notre Dame.

The mercy of God was evident in that no one was seriously hurt in the fire.

Also, much of the cathedral and its artifacts inside were spared from irreparable damage.

The question I have now is, what does the rebuilding of Notre Dame say? What lessons can it teach us?

A Lesson in Criticism

In a recent issue of Rolling Stone magazine, Patricio del Real, an architecture historian at Harvard University, questioned whether the “Christian European France” – that he says Notre Dame symbolized – actually existed. The point I believe he is making is that the burning of Notre Dame was actually a good thing, as it liberates us from the notion that France was ever truly a “Christian” nation.

I wonder if those who see Notre Dame as politically divisive would advocate not rebuilding the structure? It seems to stand to reason that something thought of a divisive should be done away with, no? And perhaps time, effort, and money should be put into things that “make sense” to human logic. Certainly Christianity and its buildings are not that, at least that’s what I read in del Real’s comments.

A Lesson in History

This idea is not actually new or modern. In 1793, during the French Revolution, the cathedral was taken away from the Church and rededicated to the Cult of Reason and, soon after, to the Cult of the Supreme Being.

This seems to be along the same reasoning as today’s criticism of the rebuilding efforts.

By the way, the cathedral was given back to the Roman Catholica Church by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1801.

A Lesson in Structure

Still, the President of France has pledged that Notre Dame will be restored “in five years.”

This, too, to my mind, misses the point of the building.

Cathedrals were not built quickly. Notre Dame took 100 years to build the main structure and many more to get us to the building that partially burned last week.

The building of a cathedral in the middle ages was not a building of a, well, building. It was a way of life. It was something that people gave their entire life to.

All of the people who started building Notre Dame never lived to see it completed. Nor did they expect to.

A Lesson from God

Even the buildings that God instructed his people to build – the Tabernacle and later the Temple – were never meant to be permanent structures.

They were meant to draw each other together around a purpose – to glorify God and to serve their neighbors.

That’s the lesson for any building that Christians build – be they cathedrals, basilicas, or churches.

It isn’t about the building, it is about our relationship with God.

We are God’s Cathedral

 Buildings come and go. But the Church will last forever. That’s because the Church is not made of brick and mortar. It is made of flesh and blood!

The Apostle Peter wrote:

As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”

1 Peter 2:4-6

You are God’s Cathedral. You are who Jesus gave his life for. And being a forgiven child of God through the shed blood of Jesus, you are built with others to tell this Good News to the world!

A Living Building

Historic buildings – like Notre Dame – while beautiful and functional, will come and go. Nothing lasts forever except the things God intends to last – human beings.

Because of Jesus blood and righteousness, we will live forever in heaven. But in the meantime, God builds us all together as the Church to tell others the Gospel of Jesus.


Heavenly Father, you gave your Son, Jesus Christ, as the sacrifice for my sin. Now make me a living stone and a part of your Church so I can tell others this Good News. In Jesus’ name. Amen. © 2019 True Men Ministries

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