One day as Jesus was walking along with his disciples, they came to a place called Caesarea Phillipi. The place was named for a ruler from Herod’s house named Herod Phillip II or Phillip the Tetrarch. At the time, there was a coin circulating with Phillip’s image on it, something considered idolatrous by the Jewish people because often, these coins had not only the image but the words in Latin that might say God, Son of God, or divine ruler. So, as they walked along in this place where, to the Roman people or Roman sympathizers in the area, Phillip might have been considered a god, Jesus asks his disciples a question, Who do people say that I am?

The disciples answer various things, Elijah, John the Baptist, Jeremiah or one of the prophets. Peter, of course, offers the right answer saying, You are the Messiah (the one anointed by God to deliver his Creation from its brokenness), the Son of the living God (in contrast to Phillip II as a son of the dead gods of Rome). In the Gospels of Mark and Matthew this becomes a Messianic secret as Jesus orders the disciples not to tell anyone.[1] Jesus, however, does tell Peter,

Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.[2]

The Greek word petra usually means rock, but a variant meaning is a symbol of firmness. I think however, when Jesus is speaking to Peter he is saying on the firm foundation of this idea, I will build my church. And the idea the church will be built on? Jesus is the anointed one of God to deliver his Creation from its brokenness.

What does all this have to do with destroying the church? Everything if we forget that this was purpose the disciples were given to live into. When we find ourselves hanging on to preferences that we demand others follow and call them traditions, I believe we are destroying the church. When we make claims about biblical literature to make ourselves comfortable with our life choices versus those of others who might not live that way, I believe we are destroying the church. When we choose to let the politics of our world become the politics of our church and draw us away from the mission and intent of the church, I believe we are destroying the church. Anything that takes us from aiding and assisting God in the deliverance and repair of the brokenness of God’s Creation, I believe, is destroying the church. Why? I believe that in doing those things that point us away from the restoration of Creation (people and planet) and claiming we do it in the name of God and the church, inevitably draws us and those seeking God away from God and the true church as it was meant to be.

Want some ideas on the church as it was meant to be? Read Luke 4:18-19, Matthew 25:31-46, Acts 2:42-47. When you do, think about how those things aid in repairing the brokenness of Creation.

[1] Mark 8:27-30

[2] Matthew 16:17-19


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