A while ago, I went on a prayer walk through the community we serve as a local church in Amsterdam. I tried to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit, and the needs and climate of the neighborhood.
During the walk, I became overwhelmed and discouraged. There was so much brokenness and frustration going on, and I realized that most of the people are totally estranged from the Lord. I felt intimidated. “How on Earth do you think that you and the small group from the church can make a difference here?” I asked myself.
“But what about you?” He asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by My Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it” (Matt 16:15-18, NIV).
Once Jesus took His disciples near Caesarea Philippi to a place at the foot of a steep mountain wall rising up in front of them. At the bottom of this mountain was a deep cave that was called the cave of Pan, and it was surrounded with temples and niches with statutes dedicated to Pan, Zeus, Caesar Augustus and others. There was worship of idols, demons and political powers going on, including sexual rites, right in front of them.
In the face of this intimidating atmosphere, Jesus asked His disciples: “Who do you say I am?” The answer of Simon was: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
The weight of this statement is significant because of the overwhelming spiritual pressure in that place. It was, as Jesus pointed out, a God-given revelation and conviction. Simon was saying, “Jesus, You are more than all of this we feel and see; You are the Lord and Messiah!” It was this revelation that turned a Simon into a Peter, a foundation for the church that would not be overthrown by the powers of darkness.
In this text, Jesus used the word Ekklesia for “church.” In His time, this was a well-known term for the ruling assembly of the Athenian democracy of the city. The Romans adopted this term and used it to indicate a group of faithful subjects deputized by the emperor to ensure that his will was done in their city or region.
It is intriguing that Jesus did not use the temple or the synagogue as a model for the church, but an institution and system by which territories were infused with the style and customs of Rome. This concept became the theme of the church in the first centuries: Jesus Christ as the emperor (Lord).
During my prayer walk in Amsterdam, the Lord released me from the intimidation and led me to pray for a specific block of apartments. I felt new hope and expectation rising within me. Later that year, the Lord provided unique connections and opportunities for our church to serve and minister to the people in this block, and bring shalom.
Let us allow Jesus to lead us to the specific territory where He calls us as kingdom influencers. May He give us grace not to retreat into the safe environment inside the walls of our church when we are confronted with the needs and spiritual pressure of this territory.
We can trust Him, that where He sends us, we will be carried by the same revelation that Simon had and become kingdom people of influence and blessing.
- Lord Jesus, we trust You to place us in the territory You call us to become instruments of change and hope.
- Lord, help us to press on, even when we are overwhelmed by the adversary and the brokenness of the situations we face.
- Father, give us the revelation in our inner being that stirs conviction that will produce compassion, faith, hope, insight and a release of gifting, power and ministry to see kingdom breakthrough in new territory.
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