Most of the time when, we hear the word “church,” we think of the building we go to on Sundays. But, that’s not how Jesus used the word “church” when He first spoke it. When Peter openly declared that Jesus was the Christ, the son of the living God (Matthew 16:13-16), Jesus blessed Peter and said:
“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
The Greek word used here is “ekklesia” and it means an assembly of people, a gathering of people. As God’s people, as Christ-followers, we are the church. The people are the church, not the building.
Jesus declared that hell would not prevail against His people. I believe Him. I believe in our divine destiny as children of God. I stand upon the words of Christ as my victory.
Yet . . . sometimes it’s hard to see our victory when we look around. The news, social media, and even our own households struggle to represent an assembly of people who are prevailing against evil. It can be discouraging, depressing. We might often feel as if our one little voice, or our simple acts of kindness cannot stem the tide of evil all around us. We can feel like a drop in the ocean.
Because I believe God always delivers on His promises, I am convinced that if God’s people would stand a bit taller, speak a bit louder, demand a bit more righteousness in each person’s circle of influence, the tide would turn! Jesus said the very gates of hell would not overcome “it.” The church, the ekklesia, the assembly, the gathering of people. People like you and me.
This week in our church, we took part in a commissioning service. Several types of personalities/gifts/professions were described and we were asked to stand if the category described us. Next, we were commissioned to go and make disciples who make disciples. We were prayed over and sent out to be the church that Jesus described. We were commissioned to go forth in our holy calling to spread the good news about Jesus and make disciples.
It is this making of disciples that shall prevail against the very gates of hell. Your personal belief in Jesus is a miracle, but it won’t stand up against the forces of evil without support, without growth, without a strong ekklesia around you to help you when needed. The church, the kind spoken of by Jesus, was not one visited on Sundays. Ekklesia is a gathering force for good, for Jesus.
Each of us is the “church” and each of us has a role to fulfill in His Kingdom. Your church is you. You are the church. You have a part to play in the victory over evil. How will you fulfill your calling? How will you develop into a prevailing force for Jesus?
If each person in Christ’s church would do one act of kindness each day for someone else, the ripple effect would be unstoppable. If each person would mentor just one other believer, the voice and the strength of God’s church in America would begin to rise again. Wouldn’t it be beautiful for our nation to return to “In God We Trust?”
The gates of hell will continue to prevail if the church, you and me, won’t stand up for Jesus, speak out for Jesus, and act like children of God. We have been entrusted with our mission and commissioned for service to His Kingdom. For myself, I am going to “up my game” in terms of serving the needy in my area. I need to get out there and not be afraid to lend a hand to people who don’t look like me, live in my neighborhood, or believe what I do. I serve in my church, in my ekklesia, but I need to get out of my normal gathering so that I can invite others to join us.
How about you? Do you have a church people around you? How can you help others feel the love and power of your church? How can you help build His ekklesia?