So, happy new year. Welcome to 2017.
One of my favourite things to do at this time of the year is to not take holidays. Yep, It’s pretty much just me holding down the fort here at Waratah church. But what’s great about it is that when you’re by yourself, it’s the one time of the year where you can work at your own pace and concentrate on the essential discipline of reflection; having the time to go over what the Spirit has been saying in the past 12 months and allowing him the space to bring it to mind.
One such revelation actually came about in November, but in a time of planning and preparation for the new years ministries, I found it particularly pertinent to now.
It comes from Matt 16:16-17:
Simon Peter answered, (to Jesus’ question of who do you think I am) “you are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied “Blessed are you Simon, son of John, because my Father in Heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from a human being.”
Here’s the thing; after Peter’s realisation and proclamation, Jesus then and only then goes on to make that famous statement: “and now I tell you that you are Peter (rock) and upon this rock I will build my Church.”
To put it bluntly, I’m not sure that this is Jesus instigating the Papacy. This is at least partly because when you read ‘Acts’ later on, (and read it carefully) you realise that it seems that James is more the ‘head’ of the Jerusalem council. If that’s the case, what does the above all mean?
Jesus does not build his church on a personality. We could almost stop right there! I’ve long given up trying to be the blended clone of Tim Keller and Rick Warren!
So in real time, what does Jesus, build his church on? Or, if you like; what is the ‘rock’ on which he builds a church?
Answer; Specific revelation of and from the Holy Spirit.
The big clue here of course is that prior to his proclamation, Jesus strangely reverts to calling Peter by his old name: Simon, meaning ‘reed’. What turns this reed into a rock? There’s not other answer other than revelation from the Father, through the Holy Spirit.
The Church is literally a gathering of people who have and continue to come together because God has revealed to them the true identity of who Jesus is. So enormous and life changing is this revelation that it causes people who in any other organisation would or could be mortal enemies….to worship together.
The source of Christian unity is not doing fun activities together. (Although there’s nothing wrong with that!) It is revelation.
The thing about revelation is, when you know that you know that you know that you have heard from God, that the master of the universe has personally addressed you, what mere mortals say doesn’t really have a huge amount of weight to it any more. It really doesn’t.
You realise that the words of mortals, be it the highest praise or the vilest condemnation are ultimately ‘chaff in the wind’ next to the words of God. Imagine living each day out of this truth. How stable would we be?
Have you got a deep ‘un-resolvable problem’ with your church community? Before anything else, try being relentlessly available to God that he may fill you with that which cannot be learnt from mere mortals.
Before we’ve ever got a relationship problem, we’ve got a revelation problem.