I was thinking more about that on Saturday during a fleeting visit to Cologne Cathedral. It was a rather hectic day. My son and I took my teenage daughter and a couple of her school friends to a rock concert by Evanescence at a podium in Cologne. The concert was in the evening, but the girls were anxious to be early so they could get a position near the stage. So we delivered them in the early afternoon in time to be among the first hundred in the queue. We parked the car and my son and I took a metro into the city centre.
The focal point of the centre of Cologne is, of course, the cathedral. We found our way out of the central railway station onto the public space around the cathedral. 'Town square' is the concept according to Wikipedia. It is a remarkable sight. There is the huge, extremely ornate cathedral, with the functional city centre buildings in all sorts of styles pressing in around it, crowding the space.
There was a constant stream of people walking past the cathedral between the station and the shopping area on the other side of the square, like ants between their nest and their food and material supplies. And around the cathedral the tourists of the world were taking their pictures and listening to their tour guides.
We wandered into the cathedral to have a look around. The tourist information explains that the cathedral does not actually have walls but the space between the supporting pillars is filled with the lattice work of coloured glass windows. Nevertheless, there was a sombre darkness inside filling the impressive high long space formed between the soaring columns and arches of the interior.
The place was crawling with tourists and their guides. Far in the distance, beyond the public space was the high altar glowing golden. I tried to relate all this to the God of the Gospel. Could this building, the effort which went into its design and construction and the wonder of it's appearance form a sacrifice of worship acceptable to God? Is that what God is looking for from His people?
I looked at the statues of bishops and princes around the walls and I doubted. It seemed more likely this was built to their glory and power systems rather than to the God of the Gospel.
I looked at the little side altars and shrines, with their racks of little flickering candles and invitations to make an offering to some cause or saint - very picturesque, but my impression was of pagan idolatry, rather than of something which the God of the Gospel would appreciate.
I tried to figure out how does this place contribute to communicating the Gospel to the trail of people passing outside doing their Saturday shopping?