Only God Can Transform People Into a Church
Bible Study: Matthew 16:17-19; 1 Peter 2:4-10
If asked how the church began, some would imagine a group of men in suits gathered around a long oak table. Peter turns the page on a flip chart and says: "I've listed what I think are the keys to an effective organization:
• Dynamic small groups.
• Dynamic programs.
• Dynamic financial resources.
• Dynamic parking and facilities.
"I want us to keep these four in mind as we hear the reports from the committees on procedures and job descriptions."
Our plans for the church can sound like plans for the Kiwanis Club. We ask questions like: "How can we get more people to attend our church instead of other churches?" We're less likely to ask: "How can we be the church God wants us to be?" We start to think the church is our business.
Peter knew better. When Jesus told him "on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it" (Matthew 16:18), Peter could tell Jesus wasn't talking about bylaws and budgets. So when Peter writes to Christians in Asia Minor, he draws a portrait of the church that looks less like an institution and more like God's family.
First, Peter presents us with a series of pictures of who we are and who we are meant to be. The church is made up of living stones: "you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house" (1 Peter 2:5). The key to understanding this strange picture is in verse four: Christ is the living stone, not a musty monument, but the living foundation of the church. As living stones, the church bears a family resemblance to Jesus: we share in his rejection by the world and his acceptance by God. Peter doesn't mention a building committee, but instead writes that God is the architect of the spiritual house.
In verse nine, the writer offers a montage of images of the church:
• "You are a chosen people." The early church was filled with displaced, unwanted people. Imagine the joy they felt when they realized God loved them.
• "A royal priesthood." An argument can be made that a comma should be placed between "royal" and "priesthood." We are a royal palace and a priesthood. The church is a royal palace because God is in residence. The community is a priesthood with access to God.
• "A holy nation." We tend to think of ourselves as individuals rather than as a unified people. Like the ancient Israelites, the church becomes a nation in its exodus story. God's people are joined by the freedom found in God's grace.
• "People belonging to God." The church doesn't belong to her members, but to God. Clarence Jordan's Cotton Patch translation of verse 10 reads: "The former nobodies are now God's somebodies; the outcasts are now included in the family." Religious organizations can operate in the black and fill the building on Sundays, but only God can make us the church.
Brett Younger is associate professor of preaching at Mercer University’s McAfee School of Theology.
- Matthew Tan published the blogpost "Justice, Unity & the Hidden Christ": Review in Ethika Politika.
- Brian Dodd published the blogpost The Top 10 Leadership Posts I Read The Week Of March 3rd.
- Nathan Wheeler published the blogpost Prayer, a beautiful mistake: Atheism For Lent Part 1.
- Allen O'Brien published the blogpost Mark Driscoll’s Publishing Tactics Trigger A Golden Age For Christian Publishing.
- Brad Russell published the article FaithVillage Expands Church Partnerships with 10 New Features.
- GREG WHITAKER just moved in. Take time to say hey.
- Bill Reichart published the blogpost How To Supercharge Your Productivity With Evernote.
- Jotham David Parker published the video Truth (Christian Dance Hymn. Full Song with Lyrics).
- Myra Lee just moved in. Take time to say hey.
- FRANK NADJOMBE created a new gallery
- FRANK NADJOMBE just moved in. Take time to say hey.
- Jewish Voice published the blogpost Woliso Population Plus One – Medical Missions in Ethiopia.
- Matt Perman published the blogpost Although Amazon is Sold Out, Barnes and Noble and Westminster Bookstore Still Have Copies.
- Brad RussellLots of Lenten posts from our blog community, make sure you check some of them out.
- Blake Atwood published the article 'Warfare in the Old Testament' | Boyd Seevers [Book Review].
- Jim McNeely published the blogpost The Cross of Christ Declares that God Understands my Suffering.
- Blake Atwood shared 7 Mobile Apps for Church Social Media Directors: Check out Darrel Girardier's favorite mobile apps for social media: "If you're like me, you can't be confined to your desk and run social media for your church. You need mobile tools that allow you to quickly capture what's happening and feed it to your social media channels. Here's a quick list of tools that I use to get the job done."
- Stephen Morrissey published the blogpost Church Social Media (Part 2): Social Media Foundations.
- Shari Dragovich published the blogpost A word on literary affairs, time online, & making culture.
- Mike Liebler published the blogpost AP Smears Trail Life Boys With Misleading ‘Nazi’ Photo.
- Adam Smith published the blogpost Monetize on Your Blog With Affiliate Marketing – Courtney Gordner.
- George BullardMarch 7th: Transform Congregations By Discovering the Invisible Signs #365SSIFTC http://bullardjournal.blogs.com/bullardjournal_microblog/2014/03/march-7th-transform-congregations-by-discovering-the-invisible-signs-365ssiftc.html