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
Jesus made this radical statement. Thousands of people have debated as to whether Jesus would build His church on Peter or on His confession. While I have my convictions, that is not the purpose of this post. I would rather call attention to what Jesus said would not happen. Jesus said that the gates of hell would not prevail against His church. It is clear that the church is strong and vibrant when looking at the global church, yet sometimes it appears weak and ineffective when looking at a local body.
Have you ever noticed that there are extremely rare instances of local churches lasting for very long? Sure, you have buildings that last, but very rarely do we have congregations that last. I know that we hear people blaming the degradation of society or cultural shifts or any number of other reasons. But I cannot go along with that. Jesus said that the gates of hell would not prevail against His church. So what is happening?
Jesus, during his incarnation, confined Himself to a regional geography but never a specific and exclusive place. He was itinerant at best- even warning those who wanted to follow Him that He had a less stable environment than the foxes. Jesus taught His disciples to do what He did. Jesus' command was to follow Him (indicating movement). Yet they tried to stay put in a specific location. Then persecution came and the church started to spread, all but the apostles. Finally in 70 AD we learn that the hammer was dropped and the gospel was thrust out.
Could it be that the church was never meant to be stationary? What would it look like if this were true?