Now when Jesus came to the area of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Human One is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.” He said, “And what about you? Who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Then Jesus replied, “Happy are you, Simon son of Jonah, because no human has shown this to you. Rather my Father who is in heaven has shown you. I tell you that you are Peter. And I’ll build my church on this rock. The gates of the underworld won’t be able to stand against it. I’ll give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Anything you fasten on earth will be fastened in heaven. Anything you loosen on earth will be loosened in heaven.” Then he ordered the disciples not to tell anybody that he was the Christ. (Matthew 16:13-20, Common English Bible).
I was a college junior, studying at University of Houston’s Downtown campus. I was taking a geology class in an effort to meet my natural science requirement. I had already taken an astronomy class for half (my thought at the time) I really enjoyed but it was incredibly difficult. I thought for my other science class I wanted something easier than a class that would eventually transfer as astrophysics. Modern science has yet to come up with an instrument to measure my lack of interest in any science class but geology seemed to be a class that at least wouldn’t be too difficult. It was a correct assumption to make.
Still, as I sat through the class, I asked myself the age-old question students often ask when they are having to take a class they really don’t want to take. “Why do I need geology?”
Most of the time when I have asked this question I’ve never come up with a good answer. This time was different. At the same time I was taking this class I had completed my candidacy for ministry work and was waiting on an appointment to my first church. To help prepare myself, I wrote a sermon every week whether I was preaching or not. Most of those sermons are still in my file cabinet. They haven’t seen the light of day in years, nor do I plan to break them out any time soon.
One week the lectionary gospel lesson for the week was the lesson that we have been looking at the past few days. I was thinking about what I might include in a sermon while sitting in a geology lecture. The professor was talking about different kinds of rocks. The Holy Spirit had to be speaking through that professor (remembering her, I doubt she would approve of that idea) because I suddenly knew what I was going to write about in my sermon, types of rocks.
There are three different kinds of rocks and I have learned each has a parallel within the church. The three types of rocks are igneous rocks, sedimentary rocks and metamorphic rocks.
Igneous rocks are created by volcanic action. When a volcano explodes, ash, magma and rocks spew from the volcano.
Igneous rocks are like people in the church who become a Christian in a single moment in time when the Holy Spirit explodes in their life and they accept the relationship God offers to them. They can remember back to a time when their salvation journey began in that particular event.
Sedimentary rocks are created through a combination of igneous rocks weathering and the fragments of the rocks settle and through compression and cementing action become a new rock.
For many of us in the church today, we are like sedimentary rocks. We can’t remember a time when we wouldn’t have claimed being a Christian. We grew up in the church. We were exposed to the faith by many different people. Family members, Sunday School teachers, pastors and other faithful people in our lives. Fragments of faith weathered from them onto us and the Holy Spirit then cements those pieces together to make us a new creation.
Metamorphic Rocks are rocks that begin life as either igneous or sedimentary. These rocks are inducted back into the earth’s crust and through heat and pressure, the makeup of the rock changes, making it yet another new rock.
I see metamorphic rocks as those of us who live in a special call to the ministry of Jesus Christ. The heat and the pressure of the Holy Spirit make us something new and different as we are called into representative ministry.
These are the rocks, the people, who make up Christ’s church. Some came into being in that single event. Others came about because of the faith of others rubbing off on us and we were cemented together by the power of the Holy Spirit. Still others are pulled back and through heat and pressure are made different. All of us share one thing in common, through the power of the Holy Spirit, we who sometimes are even more like a rock than we care to admit, are the rocks that make up the Church of Jesus Christ.
What kind of rock (Christian) are you?
Have a blessed day in the Lord.
Joy and Peace,
Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved