Scripture Reading: Matthew 16:13-20
And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.’ Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah. –Matthew 16:18-20
We are all Peters called to build Christ’s church. We like Peter struggle to understand everything. Many perhaps are not as decisive as Peter or as bold in our pronouncements. He was born to lead; some are born to support. Sometimes the roles reverse depending on the situations and the talents and skills we each bring to the building site. We all make mistakes, and from time to time we each get some things right. God is ultimately able to use all we contribute to the fulfillment of our call to build Christ’s church. We learn from our mistakes and gain confidence to continue the journey from the joy of love shared and received.
Raised on a farm, I am well acquainted with the problems that result when animals escape their fences. My brother and father tried to corral a cow once that was so determined to gain her freedom she swam the pond. Once caught, she continued to terrorize barns and milking stanchions and soon returned to the sale barn. Jesus in our scripture today calls us in our work of building the church to be careful what we loose on earth because what we loose on earth is loosed in heaven. It seems to imply that our calling to build Christ’s church is a partnership with God. God will indeed help us deal with the consequences of our actions, but God sure wishes we would consult with him first and carefully weigh our actions so that we are not investing more of our energy in chasing loosed problems than we are in productive outcomes.
We all need to routinely take a good hard look at how we deal with being the church, the Body of Christ in the world today, and apply the test Jesus gave us in Luke 6:31, Do to others as you would have them do to you. How would we feel if someone treated us the way we treat others? As we self-examine our behavior each day, it might be a good idea to role play in our minds how it would feel if we were the ones on the receiving end of that behavior.
Prayer: Lord, help me to see myself as others experience me. Help me to see others as they may need to be understood at certain time and circumstance. Give me the empathy to communion with others in such a way that work gets done as sharing in the task nurtures all involved. Amen.