For a substantial percentage of people, that term means a building where religious stuff happens. For many others the term has come to mean an organization complete with a hierarchy and rules. In our day it can be described in terms of a sort of theater where shows take place. Good shows, complete with a wide menu of music and inspiring talks on self esteem, lots of "how to" sessions on financial success, and happiness.
Jesus told His disciples something monumental. It was said in context with a reply to His own question to them. He asked them, "Who do you say that I am?" After Peter answered, "You are the Christ the son of the Living God," Jesus immediately replied. Blessed are you Simon . . . flesh and blood didn't reveal that to you but My Father in Heaven. He then said I tell you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it.
Two things leap out at me:
I take this to mean the Gates of Hell will try to prevail and that the Church will be in pitched battle as we seek to implement God's will for His people. There is one other thing that I know for sure. Church is a plural word. Whatever happens to us or through us happens to us all.
Now this flies in the face of the modern perceptions of the "Church as show" or "Church as audience," or "Church as event." If we have to use a metaphor, perhaps "Church as a family" is more like it. Jesus called the Church His body. That involves a little deeper commitment than an audience.
As we get in this subject today, allow me to remind us about a point I made earlier--the gates of Hell are in battle against us. To succeed, we need each other. This particular local manifestation of the Lord's Church is on the verge of a move. We as never before will need to be reminded of our responsibility to each other and to our Lord.
Copyright 2006 by Jim Jenkins. All rights reserved.