France is a religious enigma! Every day of the French calendar is connected to a Roman Catholic saint. Thursday was Saint Benoit's day. Yesterday belongs to Saint Olivier. We walked along Saint Michael's Boulevard browsing the historic Latin Quarter. So many saints for so many streets! Yet when our host Jany Chassatte detoured down a side street in District 6 near the Luxembourg Gardens to take us to the building where her family gathers together with 150 evangelical believers, we were surprised by the sign that advertises this Protestant place of worship - TEMPLE DU LUXEMBOURG Culte reforme.
French Evangelicals, numbering less than one percent of the population, are often viewed as being part of a cult.That's how they are defined by government signs. Religion is viewed as something negative; democracy the liberation from Roman Catholicism. And yet the occult is rampant. Mediums, faith healers and fortune-tellers make as much or more than medical doctors. An estimated 10 million people pay around $40 billion for occult consultations, three times the amount paid to hospitals and doctors. Inside the rented building where believers meet is another sign - Crois seulement - Just Believe -Jesus' words from Mark Chapter 5.
I like how Jesus keeps it simple. In the face of humanity's greatest fear - death - Jesus informed the grieving visitors from Jairus' house, whose daughter had died, 'Don't be afraid; just believe.' In Palestine Jesus reversed the verdict of death and in Paris Jesus dispels the superstitious worship of saints and the verdicts of governments. Jesus takes us back to the core of the Christian 'cult', to the foundation of death defeating discipleship - faith! Lord, give us grace to simply, sincerely - just believe.