It's unlikely that this is the first article you've ready about the burning of France's Notre Dame Cathedral. It's a national landmark that has stood, in some form, for 800 years and we, as a world, were forced to watch it burn for nearly a day and a night. It was devastating to a multitude of people, not only the French nation.
I was watching a live stream of the cathedral's burning, stuck between horror and disbelief, when another feeling entirely began to creep over me. I read the headlines sprawled across the top of the screen, "Notre Dame Burns", "Gothic Structure Nearly Lost", "Will They Rebuild?" and started to wonder where we place our value in everyday life. I understand and appreciate the fact that Notre Dame is a treasure from a different time entirely, it holds more history than the whole of younger lands like the United States and Canada combined, but still, doubt circled in my heart and mind.
After the spouting flames had died to their last embers, a torrent of posts began to flood multimedia platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and everything in-between. People began to communicate their relief that the inner sanctuary was unharmed, that the fire hadn't damaged the twin towers, etc. They touted that God had spared dear Notre Dame in her darkest hour. I disagreed, but not for the reasons you might think.
We, as a culture, as a world, place too high a value on historical religious items whilst we shun the Power to which we owe their creation. The historical value of a place like Notre Dame is unmistakable, I pray that the French government will make every effort in her restoration so future generations can understand her place in history. But...I pray, more so, that the tragedy of the burning of Notre Dame serves a higher purpose; to bring those who have fallen away from Christ back from the brink.
We need to understand the value of our religious history, but not allow it to control us. Some might say the burning of Notre Dame was the conflagration of a dying era. Maybe it was. Maybe it wasn't. I think God used the pillars of fire that emerged from the cathedral's center as a beacon to bring our eyes back to him. Disasters unite nation to nation, people to people, and He wants us to unite in our adoration of Him.
I'm amused when people describe Christ as a softy, a push-over, a weakling. Because I know better. The flames that wreathed Notre Dame were a testament to His strength. Through them, He was shouting, "Come back to me! I am here! Forsake your sinful ways and find redemption in Me!"
I think John the Baptist had the right of it in Luke 3:16, "...I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire."
Christ is the fire.