Jesus said "I will build my church". Five words that are forever important to me in my desire and work to see God's glory here on earth. It is a promise that I continually look for and that I hold onto.
Caesarea Philippi was a peculiar and particular spiritual place. It was where people prayed and gave worship to many gods. Matthew the Gospel writer takes us on a journey there after telling us how the disciples needed to open their eyes and ears to who Jesus was and not listen to the popular spiritual noise of the day. Peter boldly declares that Jesus is the Christ, and then Jesus makes his promise that echoes down the ages to us today.
I will build my church.
I - it is Jesus who builds. Not me, not you, not the minister nor the youth worker. I'm sure we could do a good job, and it will look great, but it will fail if we only do it in our own strength and for our own glory.
Will - Jesus didn't say "wouldn't it be nice if..." or "I'll think about it". It's a promise. He is going to do it, and keep on doing it.
Build - not instantly pop up! Building is hard work. We want everything to happen straight away these days, Internet ordering and deliveries, change in attitudes, financial security. But building takes planning and time. It needs a solid foundation and the right materials for the job, so that it is for the right purpose.
My - it belongs to him. It's not my church. We might talk about 'my church' in a casual conversation for ease, but make sure you know who it really belongs to. Jesus is the head, the man in charge!
Church - it's a community of people. Believers who will not be ashamed of the gospel. People who want to come together to grow closer to God, and closer to one another. But it's not a social club, or a political party, or a self help group. There's plenty of those about if you need them for a certain reason. It's not about going to church, but being the church!
The amazing thing is that Jesus wants to use us to help him build the church. It will be built so strong that not even the powers of Hades can overcome it. Powerful stuff! There's a lovely image that the same Peter gives in one of his letters about this. In 1 Peter 2:5 he describes believers in Jesus as living stones, being used to build a spiritual house.
Stones come in all shapes and sizes. So put yourself in the hands of Jesus, to be shaped and placed so that he can build - just as he promised.