S (Scripture): Matthew 16:15 “But what about you?” Jesus asked. “Who do you say I am?”
16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” 20 Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.
O (Observation): Woohoo! Peter’s got the keys! Now he gets to take the car for a spin : )
But seriously…what a huge responsibility. The vision for Peter is that he will be entrusted with the overseeing of the church, and with that, the understanding that forgiveness of sins would occur in and through believers of God. Not that they possess the power, but rather that disciples of Christ would be the stewards of that forgiveness.
Followers of Christ would bear the burden of forgiving others and teaching one another how to carry that life-giving burden to the next generation…who will pass on the mantle to the next generation… and so on and so forth.
How did Jesus go about this? He spent time in communion with God, with a small group of disciples, and teaching, healing, and preaching among the way.
And Jesus taught his disciples to do the same.
A (Application): So how are we (I.e. the church on earth) doing in regards to Jesus’ passing in the keys? Kinda lousy, I think.
I’m the kind of person that either says nothing about a problem, or I see what I can do to help. I have very little patience for complaints that have no solutions. Either hush up or do something : )
As I experienced a lack of forgiveness amongst members in the congregation I grew up, I sort of vowed that as I grew in influence in the faith communities in which I was involved, I would seek to make a difference. I would do my best to follow God’s instruction to Peter.
Many years later now, I see how people (myself included) can become jaded in our views of what is “mine.” We think forgiveness itself is our own possession to give and take as we choose. But I don’t think that’s what the gift of forgiveness is about.
I think forgiveness is God’s way of giving grace to the peaceful, and throwing a monkey wrench into the plans and desires of the evil in this world.
Grace given to those who are evil or misguided means that the power they try to hold over us really is impotent. They hold no sway over us, because we don’t have to try to get even with them. We can focus our energy in forgiving them and bringing about peace.
In the church setting, evil is best overcome with grace and faith, not manipulation and force.
How does that work in your faith community? How has forgiveness made itself apparent in your congregation?
P (Prayer): Lord, help us to forgive one another as we have been forgiven by you. Amen.