Jesus replied, “…upon this rock [Peter’s confession of Jesus as the Messiah] I will build My church” Matthew 16:18.
The last word of Jesus’ statement is church. This is the first time the word church is mentioned in the Bible. The Greek word for church is ekklesia which is a compound word from ek, which means “out, from,” and kaleo, which means “to call.” Putting the two elements together, the word refers to those who have been “called out” from the world.
In other words, the church is a distinct, unique body of people who have been called out for a specific purpose. What is it about North Hills Baptist that sets us apart from everything else? What makes us unique? I believe the answer is found in Exodus 33.
In Exodus 33, Moses has realized the difficulty of leading people with all their flaws. The people have rebelled, complained, and fallen into near mutiny against their leader. Though Moses understood his mission, he was not willing to continue on unless there was one assurance: God’s presence!
“Then Moses said to the LORD, “See, You say to me, ‘Bring up this people!’ But You Yourself have not let me know whom You will send with me… Now therefore, I pray You, if I have found favor in Your sight, let me know Your ways that I may know You, so that I may find favor in Your sight… And He said, “My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.” Then he said to Him, “If Your presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here. For how then can it be known that I have found favor in Your sight, I and Your people? Is it not by Your going with us, so that we, I and Your people, may be distinguished from all the other people who are upon the face of the earth?” (Exodus 33:12-17).
What should set the church apart from everything else: God’s presence with us! It matters not the size of our church or the look of the building or the charisma of its leaders or the money in the bank or our ministries. Our success will be found in whether our God is with us! This is the only thing that counts and will make us unique—that “His going is with us.”