Sky Scrapers and Steeples


We spent a few days in New York City last summer as we traipsed across the state on the way to a family wedding in Syracuse. On the first night we roamed the streets after dark, a fabulous way to get a whole different perspective of the city.

This church building, in all it’s glory, struck me and I couldn’t stop staring at it. I think it’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral. It’s striking because it stands out in it’s old way (neo-gothic?), and is the complete opposite of everything around it. It sits right next to a sky scraper and screams contradiction.

While I’m definitely in the camp of believers that preaches “the church is people, not a building,” I still can’t help being amazed and quieted by the beautiful structures of old church buildings, it takes my breath away. This one in particular reminded me so much of how I love steeples.

Steeples point to the Heavens, from where our help comes. They are built to direct our attention upwards, towards God–to point our hearts and minds toward Heavenly things, Godward things, and to keep us from just staring at ourselves and this world.

Yes, in many ways a steeple almost says, “God is up there, and we are down here.” But it doesn’t have to. It can just be a reminder that God sits in the heavens, He does whatever He pleases, and whether you believe it or not, everything He does results in good. It can remind us that this life isn’t just about us, there’s a bigger picture, a God who is completely in control and totally worthy of our worship.

God is everywhere, not just way up there, but even in Scripture we are reminded to look up, to keep our eyes on Him, to think on things that are above, not just things that are here, below. Are hearts are to be heaven-centered, not earth-centered.

But look at this beautiful church and how it stands next to a sky scraper, which is reaching for the heavens in a self-proclaiming sort of way. The sky scraper isn’t meant to point to God for glory, but to itself.

Sky scrapers are cool and fun, we like to go to the top of them to see the world, so to speak. But they are reminiscent of the Tower of Babel, when people just wanted to reach to the heavens in self-proclamation of how awesome they were, not in a “I need God, let’s look up” sort of way.

And so I guess it just struck me here how we are tempted to have divided thinking, to look up to see ourselves and to put ourselves on a pedestal, instead of to look up to see God and to remember our need for Him.

Man wants to build things to proclaim man’s goodness and amazing abilities, but it’s God who is the giver of all good things. God is the sustainer of life, and there is no reaching the Heavens. You can get really high up only to realize there’s so much further to go.

Steeples bring me back to the thought that I want my heart to look up and direct my thoughts towards Him.

*It’s Spring Break this week, and we are lazer-tagging, trampoline park jumping, roller skating, Full House watching maniacs this week. See you back here next week hopefully for more regular writing again…*

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