“Some of his disciples were remarking about how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and with gifts dedicated to God. But Jesus said, ‘As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down.’
“‘Teacher,’ they asked, ‘when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are about to take place?’
“He replied: ‘Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, “I am he,” and, “The time is near.” Do not follow them.’” – Luke 21:5-8
Several days after Hurricane Dorian passed, I visited Abaco. The devastation I witnessed was beyond my imagination. Never in my life have I seen such destruction. Homes and business houses were totally demolished. The area looked like a war zone.
In addition to the destruction of homes and business premises, most of the churches were extensively damaged or destroyed. Some people gave their assessment of the situation by saying that God had visited judgement upon the churches.
What I saw was destruction to buildings or the outward sign of the church. Buildings are destroyed and they are rebuilt. However, the church lives on within us, in our hearts. God’s church is not made up of bricks and mortar. We, the people or Christians, are the church.
In the above text, someone, in passing, mentioned the beauty of the temple. The temple, which was located in Jerusalem, was one of the great wonders of the world. It had taken approximately 60 years to be built. This temple, history suggests, was plated with gold on the outside. One could see it from quite a distance.
The temple was the center of the people’s religion. When they spoke of the temple, it was about the earthly things like the buildings we call the church, not the God it represented.
Today we speak of the church not as God’s house of worship. Instead, we speak more of the influence and power it represents on earth.
Jesus said that the day would come when that same temple would fall. Not one stone would be left standing upon another. This happened in 70 A.D. The temple was destroyed. The Jews had rebelled against the Roman occupation of Palestine and the Roman army tore the temple down, brick by brick. They killed many and carried thousands away in exile.
In this postmodern world, the church, as someone said, is confused. The temple which housed the answers is falling. In the past generations there has been a hemorrhage of members and loss of influence in society. About the only press the church receives these days is when some minister is caught in a scandal, or another argument breaks out about sex.
One German Baptist pastor, during World War II, in the ruins of his church building, which had been bombed, destroyed and his congregation scattered, exclaimed, “At least I am free – free to be a minister of Jesus Christ. I am no longer trampled by church programs.”
Even though we are surrounded by destruction and disaster and persecution on all sides, we are still called to proclaim the gospel to a new generation. He tells us to be alert and not be led astray.
Many, in our world today, are being led astray by all kinds of different gospels and different interpretation of the scripture. We are not to be drawn off track, though. Don’t get bogged down in theological issues or worry about the cosmos (matters of the stars and the heavens).
Don’t be so wrapped up in building of bricks and mortar and thoughts of going to heaven that you forget to bring along your brothers and sisters of this world with you. Continue to proclaim the gospel wherever and however you are.
Yes, there will be major collapses. Things will appear bleak for the church and the people of God. Don’t get frightened or give up. Instead, stand tall and proclaim the good news of the gospel.
In this world where the church is constantly persecuted and maligned, you might sometimes feel that you stand alone. Be assured, you are not alone. The God of creation, creator of the heavens and the earth, stands with you. He will protect you and guide you. He is your rock. Amen.
• Rev. Samuel M. Boodle, pastor at The Lutheran Church of Nassau, 119 John F. Kennedy Drive, can be reached at P.O. Box N 4794, Nassau, Bahamas; or telephone: 426-9084; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; website: www.Nassaulutheranchurch.org.