And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (KJV)
I decided to show my face in the baptist church today, because I haven’t yet told them that I’m leaving, and haven’t attended for several weeks. The church as a whole feels like that relationship you should’ve ended by now—it’s easier to stick with it, because you don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, and you still remember all the good times so maybe it’s not so bad. (Honey, just dump him.)
During the message, I expected God would reveal reasons why I shouldn’t be there anymore. I anticipated the Catholic bashing, which I could’ve dealt with. I thought maybe he’d talk about the rapture, something I’d learned to ignore before. But I did not expect him to preach on the very verse where Jesus builds his church.
And I certainly didn’t expect him to declare that Jesus, not Peter, is “this rock.”
I squinted at my Bible—because I didn’t dare look up with that expression on my face—and thought, That’s not right.
It wasn’t just the inaccuracy. It struck me because I remember very clearly the moment I learned of Peter’s role in the early church. It was one of the first things I’d learned about in the Catholic faith. The preacher went on to talk about Peter, how he was often a “leader” among the apostles and the guy in charge. But he never once said that Peter had anything to do with building the church.
And it wasn’t just Peter, either—it was the invitation. It was, “the Bible says you have to accept Jesus into your heart.” (It doesn’t.) It was watering down salvation to a mere prayer, its purpose being our ascension into Heaven rather than anything glorifying God. I’m horrified by how many thousands of time I’ve heard this and never realized how self-centered it is.
I’ve been putting off my official departure. I don’t know how I’ll tell them; I’m too rooted in this church to simply disappear. But surprisingly, I’m not anxious over it. It won’t be fun, like any breakup, but I’m not worried. Because God had guided me thus far. And He’ll continue to guide me to the end, even (maybe especially) during the parts I don’t want to do.