I love this picture. Years ago, when I was in Athens, Greece, while strolling through the city, I happened on this intersection. The old church caught my attention. Nestled in a bustling shopping district, somehow I thought it looked out of place, out of time. Yet I was inexorably drawn to it. I wondered if the people casting about with their shopping activities had any compassion, or even interest in it. Did they even notice it? I’ve kept this picture in my laptop photos ever since. Every time I happen upon the picture, I pause and give thanks for the church of Jesus.
I don’t know how old it is, but, whatever it’s age, I have no doubt the old church is still there now. The promise of Jesus is, “…I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not overpower it.” (Matt. 16:18b) The church is an ever rolling stream. As I stood observing the indifferent passersby, my mind settled on several points of gratitude.
I’m aware of the greatness, the vastness of the church universal. The Holy Spirit has, for two thousand years, worked in different cultures to produce the promise of Jesus. When I see this picture, I see how it signals the plan of God to build his Kingdom. The church is an ever present reality. From Genesis to Revelation, he speaks to us disclosing his plan of creation, redemption and restoration.
The church is relevant to all times. It speaks of stability, perseverance, and endurance. Isaac Watts was correct to express a paraphrase of Ps. 90 in his hymn, “time is like an ever rolling stream.” The three streams of the traditional church, Eastern Church, Western Church and Protestant, continue to roll on, toward consummation in eternity.
The Spirit is preparing the Bride of Christ around the world. People from every tongue, tribe and nation.
Time, like an ever-rolling stream,
Bears all its sons away;
They fly forgotten, as a dream
Dies at the opening day.
Like flowery fields the nations stand,
Pleased with the morning light;
The flowers beneath the mower’s hand
Lie withering e’er ’tis night.
Our God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Be thou our guard while troubles last,
And our eternal home.
(Taken from Watts’ hymn, “Oh God, Our Help in Ages Past”)
The old church stands today as a testimony to the faithfulness of God and the worship of people in that culture. By its presence it’s saying to people all around,”Come to me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matt.11:28)