The Church Wins
“I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.” – Our Lord Jesus Christ, Matthew 16:18 (NASB)
When I think of this verse and the picture that it paints for us of the Church, I realized that I have it backwards. You see, when I was picturing it in my head, I think of the Church as being this protected city with these beautiful gates.
It’s like outside of these gates are all these evil forces that are trying to get in. But that’s not the image that’s intended.
That image would only make sense if Our Lord said something about “the gates of the Church”, but the gates He has in view here is not our gates… it’s the gates of Hell.
Immediately I thought of something from the Old Testament. Remember when Rebeka’s family sends her off to be married to Isaac. They send her off by saying “…may your descendants possess the gate of those who hate them.” Genesis 24:60
That may sound like an odd sendoff, but it was a common sentiment of the time. The idea is a well-wishing that your enemies fail and that you reap the benefit of that failure.
See... it is the exact opposite view from the one I had in my head. It’s not that the Church is in some protective enclosure. No, Our Lord is saying that the dead will seek to isolate themselves, to keep the Church out, but their gates will fail them.
The Church wins.
When I get something wrong scripturally, I always ask myself why. In this case, I think it’s because we tend to think of the Church as being constantly under attack in the Western world. We can often have this defeatist attitude when it comes to the Church, but the CHURCH WINS!
We are not to be isolated and insular, we are to be active do-gooders in the world. The community should be changed because of our presence here. Not only should you be changed by the Gospel, but you should be an agent of change because of the Gospel.
We were not saved for the sake of being saved. We were saved so that we could be servants of Our Lord.
We should read Scripture because it’s through Scripture that we are equipped for Good Works. We should pray so that we can call upon the very creator of the Universe to help us in Good works. We assemble as a Community for reprieve from battling the rest of the week.
We are to be doers of good. We should not sit around and complain about the world. There are many who are lost in the world, but they are just acting like lost people.
We are to help the world; that’s why we’re still here. Let’s not act like Benedictine Monks, cut off from society. We are to be change agents in society. We as a Church are to war with the world; and we have full assurance that when we do- the gates of Hell will not survive our attacks.