“And Jesus answered him, `Blessed are you Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but MY Father in heaven . . . and on this rock I will build MY church’.”–Matthew 16:17-18

My parents bought a farm the year before I was born.  Their intentions are that some day, that farm will be mine.

I obviously didn’t advise them to buy the farm.  My name wasn’t on the loan papers.  I played no part in management decisions.  I don’t  pay for taxes, machinery, operating costs or improvements. (I did provide free lawn mowing for 18 years, although truthfully, they managed that job just fine on their own after I left home.)

Despite my total lack of involvement in their farming operation, my parents hope someday, when they’re gone, the farm will be mine.  That gift will come with responsibility–management, taxes, improvements–but I will still benefit greatly, not from my own efforts, but from my parents’ lifetimes of investment, work and sacrifice.

Jesus points out that Peter’s recognition of him as the Messiah, the Son of the Living God, has nothing to do with Peter’s great wisdom or intelligence, but from the gift of faith bestowed on him by God. Those of us who consider ourselves Reformed theologians believe it is that gift of faith on which Jesus builds his church–not our own right actions or statements.  (Not that Peter wasn’t a great guy, but he did initially have problems acknowledging Jesus in public with the same passion as he professed  him in private.)

I’ve been reading Rick Warren’s “A Purpose Driven Church” in preparation for taking a call at a church.  The theme that speaks to me the most as I read this book:  “Only God makes the church grow . . . As Paul pointed out about the church at  Corinth, `I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow.’  Our job as church leaders . . . is to recognize a wave of God’s Spirit and ride it.  It is not our responsibility to make waves, but to recognize how God is working in the world and join him in the endeavor.”

There’s a good bit of literature and argument in the world about “making a decision for Christ” and being “chosen by God” (which of course, makes us much, much better people than all of those who haven’t made a decision for Christ or been “chosen”.  Maybe being the last person chosen for every playground game I ever participated in makes me a little more sensitive to the plight of the “unchosen”.)

Knowing with certainty that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the Living God, doesn’t make us particularly special or smart.  It’s a gift we’ve been given by God, but with that gift comes a responsibility–to listen and recognize the purposes for which God called us.

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