And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it…. Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things. Matthew 16:18 & 23
Peter got it right and then got it very wrong. Peter announced that Jesus was the Messiah, but then he went on to instruct Jesus on how to be a king. At one moment Jesus heralded Peter as the foundation of the church, and in the next he denounced Peter as Satan. How often the good and the bad coexist in people and in institutions!
This is true for the church. There can be moments when we get things right and something of the divine reality of the cosmos shines through our efforts, and then a few moments later the church can display and reflect all the sin and brokenness of the world. The church can save, but it can also abuse. It can guide, and it can mislead. It can be prophetic when it needs to be, but also silent when it shouldn’t be. Jesus proclaims that his church will be a rock as well as a stumbling block. What a curious choice of institutions through which to be revealed to the world! However, it is no more mystifying than God’s choice to use flawed human beings to express God’s will within the cosmos.
How does it feel to be able to be both so good and so bad?
Lord, what a complex institution the church is. What complex creatures we are. We can be loving and evil, friend and enemy, liberator and oppressor. I do not know why this is, and I have even less of an idea why You would choose to be revealed through us. But I thank You for making that choice. It is a gift to know that my flawed nature can at times reflect a little bit of Your divinity. In Jesus’ name, I pray. AMEN.