The Basílica de la Sagrada Família is a cathedral in Barcelona whose construction began in 1882. What sets this cathedral apart from all others is that it is still being built. The design is so intricate and so specific it is taking generations to complete the work. Cathedrals are amazing structures, designed intentionally to communicate the glory and majesty of God. No pillar, window, or ornament is random. Everything is according to the plan of the designer.
Before there were cathedrals, the tabernacle of the Old Testament was designed by God Himself, and every facet of it meant something.
According to all that I show you, that is, the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furnishings, just so you shall make it (Exodus 25:9).
After the tabernacle, the temple was designed by God in the same fashion, to communicate His own holiness.
Then David gave his son Solomon the plans for the vestibule, its houses, its treasuries, its upper chambers, its inner chambers, and the place of the mercy seat; and the plans for all that he had by the Spirit… (1 Chronicles 28:11-12a)
When God designs something, whether it is nature, human relationships, or how we worship Him, it is intentional. Nothing in all of creation is random, even in spite of sin. From atoms to galaxies, not one thing is out of place. Everything is ordered and constrained by the almighty will of the Great Architect. Creation and everything in it, ourselves included, are together like a cathedral created directly by God, and everything contained in it communicates something about Him.
It’s time for God’s children to become reacquainted with His design. Living our lives day to day to the beat of a world out-of-sync with God can blind our eyes and minds to the sovereign hand that directs all things. We need to shake ourselves out of this drowsy stupor and wake up to the vibrant spiritual reality that surrounds us.
And the need for this is urgent. We live in a world that is frantically trying to rip the design to shreds or twist it until it is unrecognizable. Materialism lures us to chase after wealth, security and passing physical joys. Transgenderism tells us we can refashion and remake ourselves into any image we want. Even some teachers within the church tell us that we are the focus of our religion and God just wants to help us become “better versions of ourselves.”
With so much deception in the world, it is vital that Christians understand the kind of battle they face every day. There is a war being waged on God’s design, and we cannot defend it as well as we should unless we understand and know it first-hand. We cannot protect our marriages as we should if we don’t know how they are supposed to work. We cannot defend our freedom of worship as we should unless we understand what worship is. We cannot recognize threats against the design unless we are well acquainted with the will of the Designer.
This goes beyond reading about it in articles or listening about it on the radio. It is easy to take in second-hand information and feel as if we have the understanding and knowledge necessary to be interpreters and defenders of God’s design ourselves. But taking a single tour of the Basílica in Barcelona will not make you an expert on the intentions of its designer. It is necessary that the design becomes a part of your life.
We must live in the design of God. We must partake in it, communicate with it, and allow God’s hand in it to shape us. Only then will we have the understanding and discernment to be effective defenders of it.
How do we do that?
First, we have to reject the notion that we live in a random, unspiritual world. We live in a cathedral designed by a God who communicates, a world where “the heavens declare” His glory (Psalm 19:1-3) and all things “work together for good to those who love God” (Romans 8:28). We must see God’s intention in everything. Nothing is mundane in this world. Everything is spiritual and caught up in a great spiritual war.
We must also feast constantly on the Word of God. This is where His will, intentions, and designs are most clearly visible. In the world around us, we can catch glimpses and do our best to understand God’s design, but in the Bible, they are explicitly communicated. It is as if we are able to open and study God’s blueprints.
As we search His Word, we must ask God to teach us. The prayer of David should be echoed in us:
Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes, and I shall keep it to the end. Give me understanding, and I shall keep Your law; indeed, I shall observe it with my whole heart. Make me walk in the path of Your commandments, for I delight in it. Incline my heart to Your testimonies, and not to covetousness. Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things, and revive me in Your way. Establish Your word to Your servant, who is devoted to fearing You. Turn away my reproach which I dread, for Your judgments are good. Behold, I long for Your precepts; revive me in Your righteousness (Psalm 119: 33-40).
Armed with the awareness of God’s design in our world and His will revealed in the Bible, we can then build our cathedrals. As an apprentice works alongside and under the instruction of a master architect, we should order and design our lives intentionally to communicate the glory of God. Look around at what God has given to you: relationships, finances, property, and family, even careers and hobbies. These are like pillars, windows, archways, doors, and walls that can be built up into a beautiful cathedral that amplifies the design of God in a world that has become blind to it.