Upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it. Matthew 16:18b NLT
I admired her beauty, but she had died.
A few weeks before Christmas, my brother and his fiancé married. They held the wedding at the church they attend. As my wife and I drove up to the church and then walked in, I marveled at her beauty.
Several pieces of antique furniture lounged in the foyer. Four swinging doors led into the sanctuary. An old pipe organ sat nestled in the front corner, along with a round piece of furniture that once contained water for sprinkling individuals at their baptism. Only six unadorned chandeliers hung from the ceiling, making pictures dark. Two rows of pews led to the front. Small slats of wood made up the walls and ceiling. All the wood was mahogany colored.
Everywhere I walked, the odor of old greeted me. But the folks from the church who gathered for my brother’s wedding weren’t from the original group. The original name outside was covered with a new name. The plaque on the outside wall said the church had been established in the late 1800’s—a Presbyterian church. But now, another group rented the building.
Since my sister-in-law originated from this area, I questioned her about the original church. She didn’t know what had happened. I suppose the older ones died and no younger ones joined to keep it open. Whoever owned the building decided to rent it out to another church group.
What a shame, I thought, that such a beautiful building, which a group of folks no doubt had sacrificed for and slaved over, would shut down because no one cared. But how fortunate that another group could come along and benefit from their sacrifices.
When a church closes its doors, how do we explain what Jesus told Peter in this verse? Was He wrong? Hardly.
Jesus knew nothing of denominations when He said the gates of hell would not prevail against His church. They didn’t exist then and won’t in heaven. Jesus referred to the church universal. The entire group of people who follow Him.
Despite persecution, misunderstanding, closed doors, and anything else that comes against her, God’s church will remain and grow until the end of time. Her work is fueled by God Himself, and no one or thing is more powerful than He is.
Take heart. Although individual churches may close, God’s church will march on triumphantly.
Prayer: Father, we thank You that what You died for will be victorious.
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