He wasn’t talking about Peter when he said, “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” No, you have to read the whole passage in Matthew 16, to understand what Jesus was saying. He’d been asking his disciples what people were saying about him, and after they shared, he asked them who they thought he was. Peter declared:
Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
That’s the rock for the Church — Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He is the only foundation that can last millennia. The Church is not a building built on a physical rock, but a family of believers in this declaration. Remember Paul also said, “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
This is our foundation, our cornerstone on which we gather as a Body and build one another up — into his likeness. It’s against this common belief and creed that nothing can prevail.
Oh, but that doesn’t mean Satan doesn’t try!
Just knowing this reality helps me to read the news in a different light. Today, I was reading about the church in China, and how the government had prevented about 100 believers from leaving the airport to attend a Christian meeting in South Korea. The authorities have recently tightened their controls of religious groups, targeting the house church movement in particular. The article referred to it as “new religious management regulations.”
More of the “unofficial house churches” are being targeted for closure and demolition, while students are required “to register any religious beliefs,” and hospital employees have been “forced to sign pledges that they have no religious affiliation.” A census is being made of the churches as well.
Though this news should worry me or make me sad, I found myself actually rejoicing as I realized that God must be doing amazing things in China for her church to be suffering so. I remember the stories my husband told me after his visits there to train the Chinese believers, sometimes for 17 hours straight, on how to share their faith with Muslims. Crackdowns don’t mean a thing — Jesus Christ is still the Son of God and head of His church in China.
I wondered how believers in the United States would take being stopped at the airport as they tried to travel to attend a Christian conference. Would they submit to being forced to sign pledges? Would the Church in America stand such a brutal attack?
While physical buildings might fall or become deserted, the true Church would press on, built on the only foundation that matters — the Lordship of Jesus Christ, Son of God.
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
I pray this verse for my brothers and sisters in China today, and I trust my American brothers and sisters will learn to have the same peace when their time comes. When we act like the Church, troubles will come to be sure. Are you standing on the solid Rock?
Pray for your church, pray for the Church, the Bride of Christ.
Grace and Peace
*Article from Radio Free Asia, October 30, 2018: https://www.rfa.org/english/news/china/christians-10302018120540.html