“If all the cathedrals on earth were gone, all the most glorious art were lost, and all of the world’s most valuable treasures were thrown out, Christians could and would still meet for worship around the Scriptures and Eucharist. To have church, all we need is Word and sacrament.”(Tish Warren, Liturgy of the Ordinary)
One of the beautiful things about Christianity is its simple, unstoppable power. A virus and quarantine can’t stop the church from being the church. Power outages and downed trees don’t stop the church from being the church.
Never forget what Jesus said, “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell [Sheol—the grave] shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18)
When Jesus said these words, he was standing in Caesarea Philippi, not far from Mount Hermon, an area sometimes referred to as Bashan. It was known for terrifying giant clans—the Rephaim and Anakim associated with kings Sihon and Og (Deuteronomy 2:10-12, Joshua 12:1-5).
Ugaritic history tells us that the locals believed the giants were the spirits of these dead wicked kings. They believed this area was the portal to the underworld, or the gates of Sheol. Nearby is Dan, where Jeroboam built an altar to Baal.
There is even Jewish legend that this is where the Nephilim of Genesis 6 were born, and they were the ancestors of the demons (1 Enoch 15:1-12).
On top of all of that, Caesarea Philippi was dedicated to Zeus.
What I’m saying is – if you wanted a headquarters for the spooky, evil, and demonic, this region is it.
How powerful is it that Jesus stood in this place and says, more literally, “the gates of hell will not withstand my church.”
A lot of people predict doom and gloom for the church—but Jesus said the opposite. He said that no force dares stand in the way of God’s kingdom.
I don’t know about you, but that makes me feel pretty optimistic about the future of the church!