Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth, will be loosed in heaven."
Pastor Lindsey, our new associate minister at Kennesaw United Methodist Church, shares two lively and amusing stories in her sermon two weeks ago. The first details the struggles she went through to obtain her driver's license. It made me think back to my own driving test, and how I barely passed the parallel parking which was for Lindsay, as was for me, on equal footing with ascending Mount Everest. I just wasn't happening!
The second story which resounds with my own memories is the one Lindsey tells about holding the key to her first car, a 1986, monk's habit-brown, Toyota Corolla which she purchases with her own money for $1,000 in 2006. Though my first car, a Honda Civic, is a college graduation gift for which I don't pay a dime, I immediately identify with the thrill Lindsey describes feeling when handed that car key for the first time.
Oh, the adult responsibility it conveys! The promise of new-found freedom! I recall admiring my key chain which boasted a mere car key and house key, and wishing more were dangling there. Keys, at least in my pre-Jesus and self-absorbed youthful eyes, conveyed a sense of entitlement, authority, and prestige.
I wanted that. I desired that.
I craved that . . .
And, as I traversed and stumbled through myriad job experiences after college, not really know who I was, or what would fill the meaningless void I felt within me, I derived an odd comfort in the accumulation of keys. Keys which opened retail stores, restaurants, cash registers, apartments, and offices. The growing additions on my ring signaling, with each power-promising key, providing a temporary security for my so very insecure and malleable soul.
What Pastor Lindsey addresses in her sermon forces me to recall so acutely how broken and jaded my life was before I asked Jesus to be my Lord and Savior. She reiterates the scripture from Matthew quoted above, and emphasizes that, just as Jesus handed Peter the keys to the kingdom, so He gives them to us when we are willing to accept them, and turn them in the lock which opens the door to healing and redemption in His name.
As we approach the Lord's Table for communion, Lindsey invites us to take a key from a wicker basket containing hundreds of them, all to remind us that Jesus offers to us the keys to the kingdom each and every day. I do not hesitate for a second to choose one and place it in my pocket, knowing it will find a most treasured, invaluable position on my key chain.
It will reside there permanently. My constant reminder that Jesus has given me the key to His everlasting kingdom.
A reminder that I am called to be the locksmith who frees the hearts of other to accept and follow Him.
A key which opens the only door which matters.
The only door . . .
How many keys are hooked on your key chain? Are they freeing you, or weighing you down?
Prayer: Father God, You have given us, through Your Son, Christ Jesus, the keys to your kingdom. Let us, with one heart and mind, vow to unlock the doors we may have closed to others who desperately need to hear Your Word and receive Your gracious gift of redemption. May we fling them wide to spread the love of Christ to all we meet. In His precious name, we pray. Amen.