A couple traveled recently to another continent and toured a famous religious building, still under construction after almost 100 years. They were awed by the edifice, which used new techniques for the time, with a unique style. They shared their photos online of both the exterior and interior.
A friend of theirs who didn’t belong to that religion claimed to feel the presence of God there. The couple wrote that they hoped others might be inspired and convinced by the stories written on its walls. They saw the building as a way to make converts to their religion.
Thirteen men once traveled to a capital city where another famous religious building had been under construction for decades. Some of them pointed out the building’s impressive form to their leader. They saw the building as representing the grandeur and glory of their religion. It would be the centerpiece of the great restoration.
But their leader did not share their enthusiasm. He told them,
“Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left on another. All will be torn down!” Mark 13.2.
It is not unimportant that Jesus Christ left no physical remains of the Way. No building, no relics, no sacred site, no objects of veneration or special meaning. Not even a snip of his hair.
The location of his crucifixion and of his tomb is unknown. No edifice can be pointed to as the place of his birth, boyhood, or residence. No one has any object that he wore or handled. No plaque can truthfully proclaim that Jesus ate here, or taught on this spot, or died on this hill.
Such uncertainties are caused by divine design.
Jesus did leave behind, however, some permanent structures. A Testament. A people. A message and mission.
We have the Bible, but not a copy of Scripture that Jesus himself held, read from, or wrote.
We have the church, formed by the word of God, fashioned into the shape of the Master’s design, animated by the invisible power of the Holy Spirit.
We have the stories of how God worked among men, of how he took human form, of how he brought his eternal plan to fruition, of how he continues to spread the news of salvation through his chosen people.
Nothing of what God built can be destroyed. No bombs will smash the work of God. No earthquake will shake the foundations of his church. Sun, rain, wind, or storm will never wear down the living stones of his building, 1 Peter 2.4-10.
What God left upon this earth after the ascension of Christ saves eternally and edifies spiritually. Hearing the word of truth brings people to confess their sins and be immersed for salvation. Witnessing the worship of his people can cause the visitor to exclaim, “God is really among you” 1 Corinthians 14.25.
God’s work is spiritual, because he is spirit, John 4.24. His work lasts into eternity, because he is eternal, Psalm 90.2. All that he has left for man on earth, in order to partake of the fullness of his presence, bears his nature.
Let us never glory in physical things, in inanimate objects, or in impressive buildings, especially in the name of Christ, as if these could promote his cause or glorify God.
Let us rather glory in his plan that provides, invisibly and spiritually, for all our needs, for the salvation of the world, and for the preparation of each one to enter into the wide-open portals of heaven.