London’s iconic cathedral is dedicated to St. Paul because he is the spiritual father of Christian Europe. He brought to Europe the seeds of God’s kingdom.
Greek democracies had disintegrated centuries before Paul. He entered Europe through Macedonia — the country from which Alexander the Great launched his empire-building conquests. There, Paul proclaimed a different kind of a kingdom — the kingdom of a crucified Messiah, the kingdom of heaven. He called his Gospel, “the word of the cross . . . the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 1: 18)
Paul was on his way to Rome. That was the world’s most brutal city. Emperor Nero was to burn Christians alive as torches for his gardens. Rome had sophisticated art, wonderful architecture, great literature and a powerful army. Paul ignored those seductive trappings of a beastly civilization. He adopted as his only badge of honor, Rome’s most degrading symbol — the cross.
The cross represented Rome’s extreme brutality, far worse than the Islamic State’s beheadings. Rome used the cross to terrorize the world. That was its means to subjugate people and control slaves. The empire crucified Jesus to humiliate, mock and expose the powerlessness of the Jewish Messiah (Christ). Jesus willingly chose the cross, Rome’s ultimate weapon of terror, and made it his spiritual weapon to destroy Satan’s kingdom. Paul understood the power of the cross and followed Christ.
The Roman Empire was also built on military power. But Paul’s mission to Europe was counter cultural. He was determined to proclaim and live by a different power — the way of the Cross. He wrote, the “Jews demand [supernatural] signs and Greeks look for [philosophical] wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified . . . Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.” (1 Corinthians 1:22-25).