Confidence aimed at fullness
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 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. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ.
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of
ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes
We can easily be swayed by things around us. Perhaps the results of this week’s elections affected you. Or perhaps a recent difficulty has made you begin to live in anxiety, or perhaps any controversy you hear about on the internet controls your soul. I know that we have been trained in our day that whatever doesn’t go our way is often grounds for a deep personal crisis.
The problem with the whole outlook is that we are not seeing the reality of the situation. The reality of the situation is this: in this world, you will have trouble, but take heart, Christ has overcome the world. And look at Jesus’ response to Peter when he confesses his faith in Christ: ‘Peter, this thing you’ve said is the real deal. It’s the thing that matters, and there isn’t anything anyone can do about it!’ In other words, faith in Christ is revolutionary. And that is in contrast to any revolution the disciples thought they could muster against the Romans in the garden. Nope. Any revolution against an oppressive regime is nothing compared to the glory of this confession. I don’t think we can fully grasp this. In America, when we get a president we don’t like, people complain and commit their citizenship to Canada. Or others try to establish their own micro-state or pseudo country (just search the internet for micronations, it is quite an interesting rabbit hole). The point is that we wouldn’t have exactly been ok with Jesus putting down our idea that revolution was necessary. But the truth really is that political revolution is necessary, it is just not on the dinky scale we imagine. You see Roman politics really are nothing in weight compared to the weekly meeting of the gathered church. I was listening to an interview this week that said something like, ‘The trend of moving to having communion weekly is one of the more important political trends in the long-term future for the world, much more important than the things that are happening outside.’ In other words, the establishment of churches that are faithfully being churches are God’s piece de resistance in this age. What we need most of all is the church to be the church, and this begins with it being fueled by the word of God and prayer, led by undershepherds taking their cue from the Word, worshiping with its whole being, and seeking to make disciples of all the nations. You see, the gates of hell aren’t going to beat that! It might have beaten (or subsumed) Babylon or Rome (or today’s Europe, Russia, or America), but not the church.
And this should give a certain confidence. Instead of being tossed by the wind and wave of every doctrine and controversy, we should be driven to confident hope that we are attaining maturity, to the measure of the fullness of Christ. It’s been windy today, and our storm panes kind of rattle, and then a train goes by and they rattle more. It can feel like a miniature earthquake when it all comes together just right (if you’re not used to it). Is the house I’m in going to survive? Our kids are somewhat anxious about tornadoes. They ask sometimes, ‘What would happen if a tornado hit our house? Will it survive?’ I’m not sure, there’s little confidence there especially since I haven’t been in too many tornadoes. But here is the deal: there is a solid confidence that we have as Christians as we go about this world. It's a hopeful confidence that our salvation in Christ is sure. This calls us to be patient but diligent, always keeping our eyes on the prize of eternal life. God has established his means for bringing you to mature manhood (and womanhood). And it’s through your faithful, enduring participation in a church doing the things God has called the church to be and do. Now that doesn’t mean that your anxieties, fears, sins, and wrong doctrine will be fixed in the instant you realize this. But it does mean that the Lord is preparing you through the slow and steady for a glory we cannot comprehend. So may we be patient as we toil—with joyful hope and confidence—because Christ Jesus has overcome the world.