16–22 April 2017.
The Cologne Cathedral in Germany is an amazing place. Work on the cathedral began in the 13th century and didn’t finish until the 15th century. Today when we are so used to wanting things now, it seems incredible that church members would spend more than 200 years (or 9 generations!) to build this incredible church. But as the famous theologian Reinhold Niebuhr wrote: “Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime”. Truly important projects are built up over generations, and are greater than any one person or one life.
The spreading of the gospel is a good example of this. When Jesus commanded the disciples to share the good news with the whole world, he knew that wouldn’t happen during one lifetime. Instead this would be the start of an incredible new project, one that would run for thousands of years.
Of course during the church’s history many people have tried to stop this work, and to stop Christians from spreading the good news. In Acts 12 we see how at the very beginning Herod also tried to stop it. With sadness we read how Herod had James killed, and how he persecuted early believers. And we watch as even Peter gets arrested and imprisoned. So is this the end?
For James, it sadly really was the end. Peter probably feared that it was his end too. It looked like Herod was winning, that he was going to succeed at stopping the spread of the gospel. But Luke reminds us that the gospel story is greater than any one person. Yes, James was killed; but the gospel continues to spread. Yes, Peter is imprisoned; but the church community continues to gather and pray. And as for Herod, while he thought he could stop the gospel, it’s *his* life that comes to an end. Luke tells us that Herod was consumed by worms and died a terrible death – but the word of God continued to spread.
Truly important projects are greater than any one person, greater than any one of us. But isn’t it great that in our own ways we can keep this great story of the gospel going! In the long history of the church, the love we show, the small deeds we do, and the little words of faith we share with family and friends might seem so insignificant. But it’s in these little ways that we too keep the amazing story of faith going, and keep it spreading through the whole world.
Pastor Stephen Lakkis