Seeing one of the world’s most grand houses of worship in flames raises an interesting question to ponder this Holy Week. What did Christianity look like before there were cathedrals?
Really, really not like it does now if the New Testament book of Acts is read carefully. Christianity was born during Passover in Jerusalem, early ministers and believers were almost entirely Jewish, and there were no dedicated “churches.” Not one. Early believers occasionally met in Jewish synagogues, but mostly functioned out of private homes.
The faith began to filter out into neighboring Asian nations. Then, to Africa, through a highly placed servant of an Ethiopian queen. Christianity only reached Europe through direct intervention by God, according to Acts 16. The Apostle Paul and company were planning more Asian mission trips, when Paul dreamed that a Greek man was asking his ministry team to come and help.
They went, landing in the coastal city of Philippi. As the city had no synagogue, faithful Jews came to the riverside to pray on Sabbath days. There, the Jewish Paul met the Jewish Lydia, a business woman who sold purple dye, and the first European church was established.
In Lydia’s house.
It’s true. Notre Dame and every other European cathedral, every village chapel, every Christian of European descent can trace itself, himself or herself back to a handful of Jews who met to pray on a riverbank in Greece.
I’m thinking that’s pretty good evidence that God is able.
Cathedral or secret house church. Jew or Gentile. Rich or poor. Male or female. Free or imprisoned. Educated or uneducated. White or brown. Peace or war. Democrat or Republican. Hypocrisy or devotion. Opioids or sobriety. Church corruption or righteousness. A.D. 1, A.D. 1163 or A.D. 2019.
Yes. God is able. Christ is risen. And, believers’ sanctuary is secure. As it always will be.