In the modern city of Jerusalem stands an ancient church: the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. This church was created by the Roman Emperor Constantine’s mother (Helena) during the fourth century AD. It was built to commemorate the site where Jesus was crucified, buried, and resurrected. There are good reasons to believe that this was NOT in fact the location of the crucifixion, but the site has endured for 1,700 years nonetheless. Because of the tradition tied to its location, many different Christian religious groups want to have a presence at the site. The Roman Catholics, Coptic Orthodox, Armenian Orthodox, Ethiopian Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, and Syrian Orthodox all manage sections of this church complex. For good measure, the Lutherans have a place just across the street. Given its diverse blend of traditions, you might think that the Church of the Holy Sepulcher is a picture of Christian unity around the cross. There is evidence, however, that things are NOT all ecumenical.
Right above the church’s main entrance there is a ladder that sits on the balcony resting against a window sill. This ladder (made of cedar wood) is a simple maintenance ladder. It is not original to the church’s design and currently serves no purpose. However, no one wants to move the ladder. It has been standing at its current location for at least 300 years. It shows up in artwork done of the church dating back that far. Given the ornate splendor of the inside of the church, you think someone would just remove the ladder to clean up the church’s appearance . . . but the various ecclesiastical leaders who oversee the church cannot agree on what to do with it. Right now, church leaders at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher see their primary task as keeping the status quo on all things … including that silly ladder! So even though it is useless, it remains.
Isn’t it fascinating that a church built to remember the greatest CHANGE in history (the resurrection of Jesus Christ) is so itself impervious to change? Now some things (like church doctrine, Jesus Himself, and our mission) must never change. Part of our duty is to keep clinging to the rock of our salvation amidst the pounding waves of this world. However, the Gospel is actually quite dynamic. Jesus came to CHANGE THE WORLD!
He came to change our identity (from sinner to saint). Change our destiny (from heaven to hell). Change our mission (from me to He). Jesus did not bleed and die for us to fight over meaningless ladders on balconies or to beautify buildings. He came to seek and to save the lost … and we are His ambassadors to that end.
Today we are tempted to sit on the sidelines of life, scroll through twitter feeds, and mumble about how awful this world is becoming. But we were made for more than that … and you know it. How satisfying is it to just be a critic?
We have been transformed by Jesus Christ. We have been entrusted by Him with a transforming message for our world. This world is not static. It is dynamic. People can change … and as they do, societies can change as well. Rather than becoming grumpy old men and women who critique the world like Roger and Ebert (current events get two thumbs down), let’s find out how we can actually be used of God to change this world for His glory and our good.
We will take a look at some important principles to this end on Sunday as we conclude the “Perspective” sermon series at Wildwood Community Church. Join us in our 9:00, 10:15, or 11:30 service for worship (including communion). Or if you cannot join in person you can join us online at 10:15 (or anytime thereafter) at wildwoodchurch.org/live
See you there … and bring friends!
Miss previous weeks of this series? Click below to see weeks 1-3: