Jesus said, “…I build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 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.” (Matthew 16:18b-19).
A church consists of those called from the world to receive the benefits identified in these words of Jesus Christ. The administration of those “keys” is significant. Christ has paid for our sins. He is the first fruit of resurrected life; “because (He) lives, you also will live” (John 14:19). This is eternally significant.
Yet the church consists of people called from this fallen in sin world who are by nature vile, rude, and sinful; objects of God’s wrath (Ephesians 2:3). Please be patient! On this side of eternal glory, our lives will have trials, tribulations, stumbling blocks that tempt us to avoid the very institution that Christ builds to deal with rude, vile, sinful behavior.
I am an earthling, a person of this world. I have shared with Faith’s elders that I realize that I have symbolically stepped on toes of all Faith’s members. Sometimes, I was addressing a specific situation and using inspired Scripture for its intended purpose (2 Timothy 3:16)--not the easiest task. I realize that it was not always done with the gentleness that I am directed to use (“a defense… with gentleness and respect” 1 Peter 3:15). Please forgive me and others who have done likewise, in order that God’s people “may be competent, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:17).
Other toe-stepping done by me has occurred when not directly addressing a specific situation, but through the general proclamation of God’s Word, which is “a two-edged sword” (Hebrews 4:12). I also receive these Divine “toe-steppings,” perhaps as I am in Scripture, speaking with you, or at a pastors’ gathering. May this work of God enhance the significance of the Church as God is forming us with His Word as a Potter forms a vessel with His hands.
A third example of “toe-steeping” is when I or others do something that is intended for a good purpose, yet it may be received negatively. An analogy: A child draws her first picture and the parents happily post it on their refrigerator and then tuck it away as memorabilia. However, an art critic, or someone unaware of the source of this simple art work, may give offense as they look and comment on the work and how it is displayed. May our simple works be explained in the kindest way in the body of Christ, in order to enhance the significance of church family. All works done with faith in Jesus Christ are God pleasing, “every healthy tree produces good fruit” (Matthew 7:17).
In this article, I have revealed my desire for people to be patient, forgiving, and loving with me, the pastor. Let us apply this to our entire local body of Christ, as well as the universal body of Christ, as He has called us to be in His Church. There is intense significance in being in His Church, for “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Jesus gives the keys of the kingdom of heaven to bind for punishment and set loose for a joyful resurrected life. Amen.
The Lord be with you,
Pastor Sam Wiseman