There is no greater organization in existence than the Church. It is the most unique institution in the world. It is not an African-American church or a Caucasian church. It’s not a Spanish church or a Chinese church, a Polynesian church, a Filipino church, an Indian church, or a Korean church.
We are men and women saved by grace who comprise of every tribe and nation.
The Church is made up of poor and rich people, those who graduated college and those with a high school diploma, GEDs, and dropouts. We are all equal in Christ. (Galatians 3:28)
The greatness of the Church is not in the number of people sitting in the pew or watching online. It is great because Jesus, the creator of all things, is the head of it. And where two or more gather in His name, He is with us!
The Church is not powered by PhDs, titles, or eloquence of speech but by the Holy Spirit and the Word of God!
It is not supported by the sale of merchandise or paid admission but by each attendee’s obedient, faithful, generous giving. There is no system like this in all the world, and the Church has been around for over 2,000 plus years on these very principles.
When most people think of the Church, they think of a building. The building is where we gather. The Church is who we are.
And it’s through people God wants to partner with to seek and save the lost! The local Church is a lighthouse to its community, a beacon of hope.
Yet, should we falter in our God-ordained, God-empowered mission, the Church will become a museum and not a place where broken people are made whole.
I want to be clear, the Kingdom of God is an unstoppable force and will remain until the time Jesus returns, but the local Church may shut down if we, the people, fall short of fulfilling our responsibilities.
According to a Lifeway Research study, in 2019, 4,500 churches closed. In 2020 nearly another 4,000 churches closed. Compounding this loss is the fact that many denominations report a slowdown of those entering pastoral ministry with those leaving the ministry.
Yet, the Kingdom of God has never been more alive and able to tackle the chaos the world is facing. We have a mandate from Heaven to continue God’s mission of reaching the world!
In Matthew 16:13-20, Jesus has departed the Sea of Galilee region where crowds of people brought the sick to be healed by Him. On top of that, He has gone a couple of rounds with the religious leaders.
So He takes the disciples to the last place you would expect to find a Rabbi or receive divine revelation. Jesus is nearly 100 miles away from Jerusalem and surrounded by idol worship of all kinds.
Caesarea Philippi is in the northeast part of Israel near the town of Dan. There was everything from Baal worship to a temple built to worship the emperor. The main attraction to this area was a cave filled with water and considered a bottomless pit called the gates of hell. People believed this to be the gateway to the underworld.
People offered animal and human sacrifices to the Greek god Pan to secure his blessing and favor. This was a depraved city.
As the disciples take all this in, Jesus asks them, “Who do you say that I am?” It’s not as important what others say as your answer to that question. Faith in God is a personal matter, not a private one.
Peter responds, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus replies, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
Jesus’ reply communicates three critical truths about the Church.
#1 It’s His Church.
The Church is not mine, yours, nor ours. It is God’s idea, and it belongs to Jesus. This means that He gets to set the priorities, provide for, empower, and grow it.
#2 The Church is unstoppable.
Death is viewed as the great equalizer and the grave void of life. But Jesus defeated death and the grave. Therefore, death could not silence Him, and it won’t stop the Church.
#3 You play a vital role in the Church.
Although death or hades cannot impede the Church, we can. It was the testimony of Peter in which Jesus would build His Church. But if there is no testimony, there is no building of the church.
Our job isn’t to save people. That’s God’s job. Our job is to tell them. (Romans 10:14)
“The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.” Luke 10:2
This is as true today as it has ever been. The harvest has never been more plentiful. The pandemic has not changed this truth. It has magnified it. And the fact that the harvest is plentiful and the laborers are few means that you’re more likely to run into people who will say yes than who will reject you.
But remember, they aren’t rejecting you. They are rejecting Jesus.
When it comes to building His Church, we are not left to ourselves to accomplish this bold initiative. In Matthew 16:19, Jesus said,“ I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
What is Jesus saying by giving us the keys and binding and loosening?
- Keys are for locking and unlocking doors. It gives or denies access.
- To bind or loosen is about making God’s kingdom available or unavailable.
Our silence will keep the door locked, preventing others from finding Jesus. We don’t want to be that church who keeps the door locked.
So what why people don’t unlock the door for others?
- Maybe they are shy.
- Maybe they are afraid of being rejected.
- Maybe our faith isn’t as active as it should be.
Evangelism requires you to have an active faith. It’s hard to share with others when you’re not excited about Jesus.
Think about your favorite sports team, music group, or activity. You talk to people about it whether they want to hear about it or not. It’s the same way with the gospel.
God is building His Church, involving us to accomplish this mission. God wants to redeem and restore hurting people. He is holding back Jesus’ return for as long as possible so that no one perishes, but all come to repentance!