Architecture

The house that King Solomon built for the LORD was sixty cubits long, twenty cubits wide, and thirty cubits high. The vestibule in front of the nave of the house was twenty cubits long, equal to the width of the house, and ten cubits deep in front of the house” (vv. 2–3).

- 1 Kings 6

As we finish our look at aesthetics and the Christian today, we are taking a look at architecture because of its importance in church history. After all, there are magnificent cathedrals and church buildings all around the world that have been built to the glory of God. No art form is neutral, for even the design of our church buildings says something about our regard for the Lord and His worship.

Throughout the Bible, God’s people dedicate certain places as fit for His special presence. From Bethel (Gen. 28:10–22) to the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:9–27), Scripture is clear that our Creator sometimes chooses to make His presence felt more strongly in some locales than in others. This is not to deny the omnipresence of God, for there is indeed nowhere we can hide from Him (Ps. 139:7). What we are talking about when we consider sacred space is the Lord’s special presence, the location where His people experience particular blessings and enjoy the sweetest communion with Him. The same God who exists everywhere also meets with His children in special ways in specific locales, especially in the person of Jesus Christ.

Practically speaking, the most important thing to God about His worship is that we adore Him in Spirit and in truth (John 4:23–24). So, we can worship Him anywhere. Yet, believers have also seen the wisdom of building sanctuaries that are dedicated particularly to the worship of the Lord. In so doing, they have set these buildings apart as places where the people of God gather corporately to praise Him and receive His Word in preaching and the sacraments. Gothic cathedrals, in particular, were built to communicate certain truths about the Creator. The vaulted ceilings in these buildings remind people of God’s transcendence—that He is far above all creation as its Lord (Ps. 97:9). Traditionally, many of these cathedrals were built in the shape of a cross (a cruciform) to show people that they may worship God rightly only in and through the crucified Savior (John 14:6). Magnificent art also adorns many of these sanctuaries, for the Lord loves beauty (Eccl. 3:11).

Ultimately, only the Word of God brings us to salvation. Still, even the construction of our church buildings says something about God and how we view His worship. Let us therefore take care in how we build our sanctuaries.

Coram Deo

When we gather to worship the Lord, it is essential to remember that we are coming into the presence of the most holy Creator who has nonetheless chosen to show great mercy to a particular people in the person of Christ Jesus. The architecture of our sanctuaries can help us remember this, but we are tasked to recall this fact no matter where we gather for worship. We do not worship the Lord lightly, but we adore the holy, majestic Creator.

Passages for Further Study

2 Chronicles 3–4
Matthew 16:13–20

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