I said yesterday that the world needs unstoppable Christians, even though the world doesn’t want them. But what does it mean to be an unstoppable Christian? What does it look like? What does it sound like?
Today’s verse is Matthew 16:18.
Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’),and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.
This is one of those verses that causes some confusion, mainly because English is such a strange language and doesn’t translate well. It’s a good example of how you can’t just pick a single verse out of Scripture and proclaim it to be how everyone should live without trying to understand it in context. This is Jesus speaking, and many people think He is saying that He will build the Church on Peter. That’s not the case, and that’s a discussion for another day. The Church is built on Jesus; He’s the real Rock.
But the statement I really want to focus on this morning is the fact that the Church is to be so strong that the gates of hell (or the gates of Hades) won’t be able to stop it.
Whenever I read this verse, the only word that comes to mind is juggernaut. It’s a fun word to say, besides, but the concept is true. The Church was intended to be a juggernaut. An unstoppable force that charges through life unafraid and uncompromising. And for the most part, I think the Church is there … except for the unafraid and uncompromising part. Because from what I have seen, the Church is afraid and because we are afraid, we have compromised on the things that really matter, allowing the things that don’t to turn us into something Christ never intended.
I’m not trying to start a discussion. This isn’t a political blog. It’s a daily devotional. And I had intended to post on how hope makes us unstoppable ever since I finished the post yesterday. It just so happened that today is August 1, Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day. I hadn’t planned to post anything about it, but this is what God laid on my heart last night. He actually didn’t let me sleep much because of it; I spent much of the night arguing with Him about saying anything at all.
I’m not taking sides with anyone other than God on this one. It’s too politically charged, no matter how much people say it isn’t. No one is listening on either side; everyone is angry on both sides. So I’ll stay on God’s side and let everyone else fight it out. All I’ll say is I believe the Bible. By all means, go eat a chicken sandwich; I think it’s good to support a business, and I applaud the folks at Chick-Fil-A for being courageous enough to stand for something, especially when that “something” is an unpopular opinion. I appreciate that they have comported themselves with dignity and respect.
But I’m not so sure the rest of the Christians attending Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day will behave the same way.
I think many Christians have bought into the idea that the Church is a juggernaut barreling through life, mowing people over, throwing its weight around. And the perception the world has gotten from that kind of “unstoppable” is that the Church is a bully. Whether that was our intention or not, I think that’s what the world sees.
Christians, we don’t need to bully people who don’t believe. We need to love them.
I posted yesterday that hope is part of a process. You have to have faith before you can have hope. Guess what? You have to have hope before you can love.
Do we understand the hope we have in Christ? I mean, really? Think about it. We all make mistakes. Without Christ in our lives, we would be lost and wandering around with no guidance and no direction and no security. Without Christ in our lives, we would have no purpose. I can’t imagine my life without Him. He’s my closest friend, my biggest supporter, the shoulder I cry on, the one person I trust with everything I am. He is my hope.
And people with that kind of hope are unstoppable. Not because they are confident in their own abilities or their own wisdom or their own translation of the Bible. No. They are unstoppable because that kind of hope gives them the freedom to love everybody … no matter who they are or what they’ve done or what they believe.
That is the kind of hope the Church needs. That is the kind of unstoppable the Church needs to be. Not a bully barreling through the streets, crushing the hopeless under our wheels. But a light that people can’t ignore and can’t say anything bad about.
I am upset that a respectable business (with darn good food) is being threatened simply because their CEO expressed something that people don’t agree with. The inequity of the situation isn’t lost on me. But it doesn’t surprise me either. Come on, Christians. Didn’t you see this coming? We aren’t the first ones the world has hated. The world hated Christ long before it hated us. But just because they hate us doesn’t mean we have to hate them back.
If we understand the hope we have in Christ, we don’t need to resort to hatred; we have access to something stronger. Love. If you follow Christ, you have the Holy Spirit, Who will give you the power to love people beyond what you are capable of doing alone.
Our culture is childish. This entire situation is evidence, and the world’s reaction proves it. And how the Church responds to this will determine many things. The culture wants what they want no matter what the consequences; they don’t believe in consequences. They want to do what they want to do.
And love them anyway. It’s what Christ did for us. And let them see through our love that everything they think is important and everything they think matters most is dust in the wind. And that there is something better than what they can see right now.
If you are a Christian and you are attending Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day, I beg you to remember your witness. I beg you to ask yourself why you’re going. And I beg you to take every opportunity to show love to everyone you meet there. Don’t make this about politics. Don’t make this about bullying. Make it an opportunity to show the world what real unstoppable hope looks like.