It’s Eastertime, that special time of the year when Christians commemorate the defining events of the Faith—the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He died a terrible death to wash the faithful of their sins and was resurrected to usher in the promise of eternal life. Nothing speaks more eloquently of the power of Christianity than these two events. Christianity is the beacon of hope in a world that can surely use more of it.
Holy Week began on a tragic note this year with the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral. Europe’s finest craftsmen labored for 100 years to create that magnificent monument to the glory of God. It stood for 850 years as a testament to humankind’s striving for the divine. And in a single evening so much was lost.
Sadly, just as Notre Dame has stood for so long as a symbol of the Faith, so too its destruction can be seen as a symbol of the fall of Christianity in the place it calls home. Europe is now considered to be a post-Christian culture, its historical beliefs having been traded for soulless secularism. This is the greater tragedy.
Notre Dame was seriously damaged but not destroyed. It appears that the famed rose windows survived the blaze, and the most striking pictures coming out of the fire show the cross and altar to be intact—miraculously some might say. Is there hopeful symbolism in this? Can the West’s senseless abandonment of the Faith that guided it for 2,000 years be reversed? The French have committed to rebuilding Notre Dame. Perhaps that tremendous undertaking will spark a rebuilding of the people’s faith. Perhaps there is room for hope!
There are those who believe that America is following Europe’s lead. Christianity here has never been so challenged by so many. The entertainment industry, the media, universities and politicians promote secularism and demean Christianity. There seems to be a concentrated, coordinated effort to diminish Christianity and the vital role it plays in American culture.
There are new studies, however, that indicate that Christianity is not in decline in America but is actually growing, and while mainline churches are suffering, exuberant new churches are expanding. That growth is found where the Bible is taken most seriously and people are called to real discipleship. There seems to be room for hope!
Easter is the season of hope, but hope alone will not save Christianity. Action is required. We Christians need to demonstrate the true value of our faith by the things we do. We need to be at the forefront of righteous undertakings—reaching out to those in need, lifting up the poor and downtrodden, and not because of some government mandate but because it is what Jesus has called us to do. Jesus promised joy to those who obey his commandments. My prayer is that this Easter season be filled with joy.