ROCK solid!

      The Gospel found in the Roman Lectionary this weekend [Mt. 16:13-20] will invite several predictable starting points for preaching: [a] Who do you say that Jesus is?  [b] apostolic succession in the Church from the time of Peter until now  [c] the teaching authority (keys to lock and unlock) of the Church .. done here and in heaven  [d] the Church will go through tough times, but we are promised that the gates of the nether world will not prevail.

      While none of these are wrong or bad, I offer another possible approach.  What if THE ROCK to which Jesus is speaking is Peter’s confession of faith?  In other words, Jesussays he is building HIS church on the faith of people … starting with Peter and continuing until this time.  Each time someone gives himself/herself to Jesus in faith the Church gets a little stronger. 

         Would not most of us say that the PURPOSE for which Jesus came was NOT to start a new church — not to establish a dominate denomination … but rather, Jesus was teaching a new way of living and opening a new way to the Father.  The church to which Jesus was referring was a band of brothers and sisters — built into his body through faith and hope and love.  We find our way to the Father and to true peace through faith in Jesus and not merely through membership [baptism] into a church-denomination.

       Today — just as in the time of Peter — the community of believers [church] are those who profess faith in Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the LIVING God.  When anyone of us professes that kind of faith in Jesus, Jesus is building the Church, his Church once again.

      For those who see Church as more than a place to do “sin management”, for those who see Church as more than weekly worship-attendance, for those who see Church as more than teaching people about God — this promise that true, living faith is the way to be assured of a fullness of life now and into the future is exciting [good] news.  The darkness of the nether world will not prevail against me/us!  This is not because of me, but because of Jesus and my faith in Jesus.

      Let’s see what God might be building on my/your faith?

      Ooops — perhaps there is just an empty lot and a sign promising future development.   In other words, nothing has started yet.  There is potential, there is a dream — but no construction has started yet.

     Ahhhh ….for some there is a storage building — for new toys, more clothes … more gadgets.

     Hmmmm … maybe there is a “reflection pool” where I see myself and I gaze on how lovely I am and how nice I am looking today!

     Maybe there is an office building where I will achieve success, big bucks, and prestige.

     But … just maybe, there is a Church — a house of faith — a family of love — where God’s love, and concern, and forgiveness is being built-up and being brought into the world!  Literally his love is life-giving-water flowing from a rock.  {Remember the story from the Book of Exodus where God gave his people water from the “rock”?}

     God is looking for men and women of all ages and races and ways of life who are passionately in love with God — and who are dynamic in their desire to live the Christian message.  Were not our hearts burning when he was in our presence?

      Can God build his Church on the rock of my faith?  Can God build his Church on the rock of your faith?  When you think of your dear friends, is there a deep passionate faith that is the basis for a different kind of world?  Is the Church made visible when you gather as a family?  As a group of friends? 

       Jesus is THE ROCK.  He teaches that those who hear his word and act on it are very wise — they are like the servant who built a house on rock … so when the storms came, the house did not collapse.  Those who heard the word, but did not act on it were oh so foolish … they built on sand.  So, WHEN the storms came and the winds buffeted the house, it collapsed … it was not solidly set on a rock-solid-foundation.

      I am not the rock … NO MAN is the rock.  My faith in Jesus is the rock … just as Peter’s confessed faith was/is the rock.  No walls, no tradition, no one group can contain the power of Jesus and the force he wants to unleash on the world — to do something about the hungry of Somalia and the children of our communities.  God wants to provide quality medical care and good housing for all his people.  When love is the driving force, when relationship is the goal … when glory is given to the Father — then Church exists, Church is built and built-up.  This more than sending missionaries to Nicaragua or welcoming the immigrants from Ghana.  This is about us doing the good thing, the right thing in this place, in this time for folks very near to us.

        With rock solid faith in Jesus as Savior and Master, we will build church right here, right now!    God’s love has made me whole and once I know that, I am ready to be the foundation of something never seen before.  What is God building on you?

hjm

 

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One Response to ROCK solid!

  1. Bette Butterick says:

    Good food for thought AND action ,

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