Julie and I returned from our anniversary trip this past Monday. This is a picture of Uzes, a little town about 45 minutes away from where we stayed in France. We visited it numerous times. God was wonderfully kind to us. We experienced moderate temperatures, sunny skies, and pleasant breezes almost every day. Our love for each other and our gracious God was renewed and deepened. We had opportunity to fellowship with old friends (Pete and Jen Greasley, Stuart and Caroline Townend, Pete and Liz Harwood) and meet new ones at Penge Family Church and the bed and breakfast we stayed at in Adlestrop, England.
I’ve been in the process of getting back to East Coast time and reconnecting with our three daughters who took care of the home while we were away. What a joy to see them again!
While we were in the UK, we talked with a few people about the state of the church in England. I was sobered by the number of beautiful old church buildings we saw that are now more appreciated for their history and architecture than the faith in Christ they were meant to point to. I realized once again that no outward form or structure can insure future generations will worship God in spirit and truth. Faith is always essential to our relationship with God. We must believe that God’s Word is our ultimate rule for life and can be trusted. We must have an active faith in the atoning death of Christ to pay for our sins and make our worship acceptable. We must depend on God’s Spirit Who enables us to live a life worthy of the Gospel. I don’t doubt that these buildings were meant to communicate in some small degree the glory, beauty, and wonder of the God we worship. But no structure of stone, brick, and mortar will ever match the beauty and glory of the living body of Christ.
The lesson for us is that we must never allow the buildings we meet in to become more important than God’s people who gather there. No church should ever exist to support the maintenance of a building. No building is more significant that the church of Jesus Christ. The church exists for the Savior’s glory and the spreading of the Gospel, not the upkeep of a facility. That’s not to say that God is against beautiful buildings and well maintained structures. But those are always means to an end, not the end themselves.
At the same time I was encouraged to see the Gospel thriving and producing fruit in England. Lives are being changed, people are coming to know Christ as the only Savior and Lord, marriages are being strengthened, children are being raised to love God’s Word, and churches are demonstrating and proclaiming the good news of the Gospel. God is faithful to His promise to build his church.