“The church is doomed to fail,” a church young adult told me dismally over lunch one Sunday. He had seen all the politics, all the fighting, all the poor ways of running the church – and lost faith. Many others have also lost faith in this institution called Church. Is it really true? If so, we might as well close down churches all over the world. We might realise that no one batted an eyelid. How are we to address this in light of Scripture? Jesus gives us an encouraging picture for us who might have lost faith.
“And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
Matthew 16:18 (ESV)
Jesus’ statement comes after Peter’s revelation that He was the Messiah. In the midst of revelation of who Jesus is, Jesus highlights two key points.
1. I will build my church
Firstly, the church is owned by Jesus. Not by your pastor or elders or committees. He has promised to build His own church, which in many other parts of Scripture is called the Bride of Christ. No matter how damaged or dysfunctional a church may look like, bring it to Jesus to fix it. He is a original founder and boss. He will build His church to thrive and succeed. The problem is when we think the church’s future depends solely in our hands. That’s when we put impossible burden on ourselves and others. Only Jesus can build His church. If your church is struggling, get down on your knees and transfer ownership back to Jesus.
2. The gates of hell shall not prevail against it
Secondly, Jesus says that the church is waging war against hell. There is an unseen spiritual battle going on in a different realm. But who’s winning? According to Jesus, the church is on the offensive, bringing the fight to hell’s gates. Gates are meant for defence and was the most important structure. But sooner or later, the gate will break down. It may not seem so right now, especially with the mess that the world’s in. But one day, Jesus’ church will prevail. Hell’s gate will be broken down completely. Churches are meant to be active, not passive in the war against evil. We are to snatch people from the fire of hell and combat the ills of society. Jesus has promised that the church will prevail. Victory is guaranteed.
Is the church doomed to fail? Our church may fail, but Jesus’ church will not fail. Transfer ownership back to Him. Is your church taking the offensive? You should, because the devil is stuck on the defence, knowing that it is only a matter of time before his kingdom is plundered.