“I will build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” Mt 16:18).
These are the words of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. Jesus Christ is the “only begotten Son” who was given for us because of the Triune God’s love. Hell is a reality! God in the flesh Jesus described hell graphically: “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 8:12, 13:42, 24:51) “where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:48). All these words are Jesus Christ’s! Hell is a tormenting truth and Christ builds His Church. Christ is victorious over the devil and His Church is victorious over hell: “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Alleluia!
With these truths the Church is surely sought, and people gather as often as possible, right? That would be a reasonable conclusion; however, we all know of situations where the church is ignored, avoided, and/or shunned. What? How can that be? Mankind doesn’t think Jesus is a liar, do we? I have not heard that exact question, however, since Jesus said those words, how can mankind ignore, avoid, and/or shun the Church, His Church? I think we can place these self-justifications into three categories: 1) Indifference= “Church, God’s Word through the Church is not on my radar,” 2) Self-centered= “I am fine, I can get all I need without church,” 3) Critical= “Mankind has so polluted the Church. Church is controlled by sinful, hypocritical people. Church is man’s polluted creation, not God’s work.” Or any combination of all three. Sad situations!
There are other areas of our life that it is just different passions. Consider the preparation of food. 1) “Preparing food, that is not on my radar. I just eat it.” 2) “I am fine. I can get nutrition without preparing food, I just eat it.” 3) “Mankind has so polluted food with unhealthy stuff. Food prepared by humans is the problem. I just eat like the wild animals and be critical of other peoples’ food.” OK, and the people still survive, for a while even though they do not prepare food. We can also consider many other activities of humans, that we are not universally drawn to, such as sports, theatre, music, art, hunting, fishing, hiking, etc. Activities that people can be indifferent to or self-centered and critical about. Some sadness, but not has sad as defying what Christ builds.
Mankind is in desperate need of God’s grace. We “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Jesus “is the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (John 14:6), through Whom we can receive God’s grace of forgiveness. God took great steps to become flesh and dwelt among us. On His last night Jesus gave His last will and testament with the institution of the Sacrament of the Altar. What should we do with a last will and testament? Jesus willingly went to the cross, shedding His blood for the forgiveness of sins, He died. He rose from the dead instituting the announcement for the forgiveness of sins: “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld” (John 20:23). And before ascending into heaven, in His resurrected body, Christ instituted disciple making with Baptizing and teaching.
Lord strengthen us to be among the indifferent, self-centered, and critical “…always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).
The Lord be with you,
Pastor Sam Wiseman