Yesterday, we talked about Peter and how he began his life as Simon — the “good guy” who was religious and very responsible. Though he was passionate about serving his Savior, he struggled to understand that Jesus came to bring hope and help to the middle of sin and darkness. However, this changed when the Lord led him — along with the other disciples — to the Gates of Hades. I know this sounds a bit strange, so let me explain. In an effort to illustrate the depths of His mercy and power, Christ took the twelve apostles to the region of Cesarea Phillipi, which was kind of like the Vatican of Pan worship. Pan was the Roman god of fertility and reproduction, and sacrifices to him were offered in the form of lewd sexual acts, most of which were performed in public. In fact, many of them took place at a grotto whose entrance was a cave known as the “Gates of Hades.” There was a rock on top of the cave, and that’s where God gave Peter his new name. Though he was known before as one who obeyed religious rules, since he now understood that Jesus was the Son of God, the Lord appointed him as a missionary to the lost, and his ministry was commissioned in that dark and wicked place. When Jesus proclaimed that He would build His church on this Rock and that the Gates of Hades would not prevail against it, He was declaring that Peter would be instrumental in expanding the reach of Christianity into the kingdoms of the Gentiles — even the ones that were the most deeply entrenched in paganism and idolatry.
My friend, let self-righteousness melt into the wonders of God’s far-reaching love. As your Savior reveals to you just how much He cares for every wayward heart, He invites you to join Him in sharing mercy and compassion with the ones who are the most lonely and lost. Challenge yourself to get out of your comfort zone and carry God’s Spirit to the least of these. Feed the homeless, share the Gospel with a stranger, or speak life to someone who feels rejected and alone. As you embrace your call to take the Kingdom of Heaven to the doorway of hell, the Lord will meet you in power, fill you with His presence, and minister to you as you minister to others.