Concluding Winter Term's teaching this week, I commented in class that one of the hardest tasks for my preaching students is to identify what the Scripture text DOES. Its much easier to read a passage and sum up what it is saying. But what is God's word doing? Affirming? Rebuking? Directing? Worshiping? ETC? In other words, is this text primarily good news or bad news? Will it promise something good, or will it warn about something bad?
This issue has dogged me while immersing in Sunday's promise: "I will build my church" (Matthew 16:18) Surely this is good news through and through? To Simon Peter, and others who succeed him, it's a golden purpose-driven (!) promise. Jesus promises to do the building. He takes responsibility. He is in charge. In control. But, wait a minute! How do these words sound to "strong leaders" ? We know how easily Peter, a strong leader if ever there was one, contradicted Jesus and corrected him, (even in this chapter, Matthew 16: 22). How do strong leaders hear these words? Jesus says: I will build my church - not you. Is it possible to take on more responsibility, to be more in charge and control than we should? What's going on here?
I am still working on it. Any help will be gratefully received.