Jesus said, “…I build my church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven…” (Matthew 16:18-19).
Jesus Christ builds the church. This alone makes the church relevant. He gives the church the “keys of the kingdom of heaven” to bind up or set loose the sins of mankind. This distribution of His authority shows that God surely understands the church to be relevant. Praise God as we are guided in His relevant institution.
However, there are some who do not comprehend or think the words of Christ in Matthew 16 are relevant to them. God continues to work through His church to be relevant, reaching out and reaching into lives with His mercy, power, truth, and love. Let us consider this local body of Jesus Christ, Faith Lutheran Church.
There are a multitude of examples that could be placed in the following sentences, yet let me share a recent account. On April 17th Scott and Richard were led to Faith Lutheran Church. They were traveling across the nation to a job in Seattle. They had set out with funds for the trip; however, they had vehicle problems in Wyoming and depleted their funds. They stopped at Faith to request fuel for the trip to Seattle. Compassion was shared by Faith Lutheran to them. The communication was something like this. Faith Lutheran Church (FLC): “Why did you come to a church, this church, for help?” Scott replied, “We were hoping that you might be able to help in our time of need?” FLC: “Oh, we want to help in times of need. Please understand that it is Jesus Christ’s resources that we will supply. This church has dear believing souls who willingly give to the Lord Jesus Christ. He will be the One helping you with this temporary need of fuel for your vehicle. However, this is not His or our main concern for you. He is concerned for your eternal well-being with forgiveness of sins assuring you eternal life. May the support from FLC get you to your job, and more importantly, be another seed planted in you so that you desire to know more of Christ’s love and care in and through His church.”
Scott and Richard were appreciative and went on their way. FLC has a budget line item for local missions that provided them fuel, a meal, and seeds of God’s truth. FLC was a relevant church to these two men. May this opportunity to be relevant enrich their lives to know more about the church which has the keys of the kingdom of heaven.
FLC has many other line items on the budget that meet people in their lives in a relevant way such as providing for a called and ordained servant to administer the Word and Sacraments. FLC is certainly relevant for that servant (me and my family) as the regular reception of the Word and Sacraments are relevant to all involved. Then there are a multitude of other relevant works of FLC such as weekly radio programs, support of seminarians, diligent support of Christian education in a variety of methods in our community and in the world (Haiti in particular, which also includes daily necessities of life, such as food and shelter), etc.
The church that Christ builds is relevant. Let us remain steadfast in showing mercy by helping people in their times of need. In so doing, let us always lift up Christ and His purpose for the church of administering the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Amen.
The Lord be with you,
Pastor Sam Wiseman