“On this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” This statement of Jesus assumes something that I had never considered. The church is meant to be on the offensive. “Gates” are not offensive, but defensive. The gates of hell prevail when there is no force that threatens it. The assumption is that the church is on the advance and knocking down the gates. The church is on a mission to take over hell for heaven. Whenever and wherever hell unleashes its destructive force, the church is there to counter it and overcome it by the authority of Christ. Injustice, violence, abuse of power, oppression are all exposed and overcome in Jesus’ name.
It seems that the church hasn’t gotten the message. The church frequently is either unengaged (that’s not our mission) or in retreat (let’s hold on to what we can). If the church is engaged, it often uses the offensive weapon of prayer. While this is appropriate, prayer must lead to action that coordinates with God’s purposes and plans. The church has often been criticized for hiding inside their buildings and staying safe while the world burns. This is not the church Jesus envisions. An unengaged church is an irrelevant church; a retreating church is a pointless church. The church Jesus envisions is a church that makes the gates of hell tremble; a church that moves to bring light and love to the places of deep darkness and hatred.
This is not a time for timidity. This is not a time for retreat. The poor are crying out for deliverance. The marginalized are crying out for justice. The captive are crying out for freedom. It is time for the church to march straight to hell.