BY JESSICA LANDMON
I just recently returned from a family vacation in France. What a wonderful time we had! We ate cheese, crepes, and more macarons than I care to admit. And let’s not forget all the sites – the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, and the Palace of Versailles. But, one of the things that stood out the most for me was all the beautiful churches and cathedrals that we visited.
The French, like most European countries, constructed the most impressive churches. In fact, every town, big or small, still has a giant church in its town center. I could (and did) spend hours marveling at the enormity and opulence of these buildings. Each detail was intricately designed to bring glory and reverence to our Most High God.
But interestingly, as beautiful and magnanimous as these churches were, they left me feeling empty and cold. A structure that was once created to bring glory to God was now reduced to a tourist site where visitors from around the world, with flip flops and cameras, came to observe architecture and art. Oh, how this grieved me. Oh, how this must grieve God.
As I navigated through these hollow churches, my mind was instantly brought back to scripture where the priests, Hophni and Phinehas, were treating the Lord’s work with contempt. They showed disdain toward the treatment of the offerings and were sleeping with the women who served at the entrance of the tent of meeting. As a result of their sin, both men and their father Eli lost their lives. And worse yet, the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant, where the presence of God dwelled, was captured by the Philistines.
The Glory has departed from Israel, for the ark has been captured. – 1 Samuel 4:22
Unfortunately, the glory of Lord has also departed from many of the churches in Europe. And if we are not careful, this can happen in all of our churches. You see, the steps that lead up to the departure of God’s presence are gradual – a compromise here, and an attempt to be culturally relevant there.
Today, we are building mega churches with cafes, state-of-the-art sound equipment and giant stages. In and of itself, this is a great way to preach the gospel to more people. But it is only great if we continue to focus on the power and presence of the Holy Spirit in the churches too. Without the Holy Spirit, we will no longer feel conviction for our sins and will lose sight of our very purpose, which was the case with Phinehas and Hophni.
Please understand that I am not against building big churches. In fact, I am all for it. I just feel that what has happened in Europe should be used as a warning. Ladies, we need to pray for our churches. We need to pray for our leaders. We need to pray for our Pastors. And please pray for the Holy Spirit to be ever present in our church services and all that we put our hands to.