Jesus Didn’t Build the Church on Our Opinions

You can be sincere in your beliefs about God and still be sincerely wrong. If your thoughts about God don’t match His revelation about Himself, then you are misguided.

A.W. Tozer was a lofty theologian and passionate pastor of the twentieth century. In his book, The Knowledge of the Holy, he presented a thesis statement that signifies the importance of addressing this issue. He wrote: 

“What comes to your mind when you think about God is the most important thing about you.”   

A.W. Tozer

On the first read, that statement may seem a bit dramatic, but is he on to something here? If someone thinks that God is a lighting-bolt throwing angry titan in the sky, that person will carefully calculate how he or she lives his or her life. If someone thinks God could care less about the chaotic condition of this planet, that person will probably not seek God for help amidst growing concerns. If someone assumes that God does not exist, the only accountability that a person can have is himself or herself. 

What comes to your mind when you think about God might be the most important thing about you. If Tozer is correct with the thought that our theological beliefs have the power to change every element of our lives, it is of utmost importance to make sure that our convictions are painstakingly accurate. If what comes to my mind when I think about God is the most important thing about me, then I better ensure that what comes to my mind when I think about God is actually correct. 

I desperately need truth. If truth does exist, it is far superior and more enduring than my flighty opinions. What God says about God is far more dependable than what I say about God. 

“Who Do You Say I Am?”

One of the stories that repeatedly has come to my mind even as I type these words is an encounter Jesus had with Peter one day. Jesus once asked Peter’s opinion concerning his own identity. At the time when Jesus asked this question to Peter, the ministry of Jesus was booming.  Everywhere he went, people followed him just to see what he would do or what he would say next.   

Peter had a front-row seat to it all. He remembered what it was like when Jesus turned one boy’s lunch into a satisfying feast for thousands. Not only could he remember the taste of that meal but he knew what it was like to haul the leftovers all the way home (Matt. 14:20). Peter experienced the joy and gratitude from his entire family when Jesus healed his mother-in-law from sickness. He watched with amazement as this woman who was uncharacteristically sidelined by fever and unable to enjoy her company was immediately serving the people in her home due to a single touch from Jesus (Matt. 8:14-15). Peter saw Jesus cause the blind to see, the mute to speak, the deaf to hear, the lame to walk, the demons to flee, and even the dead to rise. 

The region was abuzz. Everyone had an opinion concerning Jesus. In one of those earth-shattering conversations prompted by Jesus, he asked his disciples concerning the public consensus regarding his own identity. The disciples began to relay information of which he was already aware. He just listened intently. 

They reported, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets” (Matt. 16:14). 

After giving them his full attention, he then asked a simple question that would forever change history. He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 

Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 

Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:15-18). 

Who Was He?

I was taught this account by many who emphasized that, at this moment, it didn’t matter who Jesus was; it mattered who Jesus was to Peter. Jesus’ objective truth was useless if it wasn’t a subjective reality. That line of thinking is simply an unbiblical lie originating in the pit of hell. Peter didn’t ace Jesus’ pop quiz because his answer was personal; he aced it because he was correct. 

If Peter had said, “I have to agree with the crowds. I think you are simply another prophet,” Jesus would not have congratulated him. Jesus, there have been a lot of talented preachers before you, and there will be many after you who can do precisely what you are doing. Don’t get me wrong—you are a great guy, but that’s just it—you are just a great guy and not a great God.” 

With an answer like that, Jesus would not have responded in such a positive manner. He would not have praised Peter for his individualistic theory if his conclusion was incorrect. Jesus would never have built his church on a simple fisherman’s flattering hypothesis. More than sentiment, Jesus was after truth.    

If you study Christ’s life and teachings, you can guarantee that he would not have responded, “You know, Peter, that’s not exactly what I was hoping you would say, but who am I to make such an exclusive claim to truth? If it’s true to you, then I think that’s just great. How could I argue with such a sincere display of authentic honesty? Let’s all gather around to sing ‘Kumbaya’ and have a big, tolerant group hug.” 

Jesus was never known to behave that way. Regarding truth, Jesus is gracious but not tolerant. He is too loving to allow error to continue without intervention.     

Jesus built his church on the truth – not on the opinion. 

The Chutes and Ladders God

Many people follow the Chutes and Ladders God. We reckon that God depends on our ethical integrity to determine how he should best deal with us.