By Tyler Yost, MDiv
Associate Director of Children and Family & Youth Ministries

Jesus called upon Peter to be the rock upon which he would build the foundation of his church (Mark 16:18). Later he would predict Peter, his rock, denying him three times (Matthew 26:69–75). Finally, upon Jesus’ resurrection, he would question Peter’s loyalty to him and instruct Peter to serve Jesus’ people if he truly loved him (John 21:1–14).

After this mission trip in Tulsa serving Turn Church, I believe I understand Jesus’ point. Of course, my seminary training would enable me to come to this understanding academically and I guarantee that I could write a hefty exegetical paper and a beautiful sermon on the subject.

However, I would not know what it means to truly live that. For us all to bring out our inner Peter, we must be willing to be that rock that Jesus needs. In order to be that rock, we need to proclaim the love of Jesus radically and unapologetically. Proclaiming that love though is not enough; we must also be willing to get our hands dirty and put the work in. We need to give as if we have an abundance of resources, especially if we have very little. We need to be willing to risk our life and limb for our neighbor should it come to that. For those actions are what we can build our church upon.

Jesus was murdered by the state because he radically loved in such a way that undermined the evils that the elite had cultivated for their own gain. We too must undermine these evils that the world has wrought upon specific groups of people with the radical and often controversial love that Jesus embodies.

During our trip, the teens and leaders all participated in that radical love. We gave of our time, energy, bodies, blood, sweat, and tears and at the end of the day we would go home and praise the Good Lord for the privilege that it was to serve this community. Through our work, we developed new friendships and relationships that will last for years. We also further developed our relationships with one another, which again were deepened by our work that was rooted in that radical and unapologetic love of Jesus.

I remember hoisting down the cross from the back of their sanctuary. There almost seemed to be an additional weight to it, something other than the wood that it was crafted from. Now I may have just been tired from the working and the constant 94-degree weather, but I believe that the weight came from my mind and my soul.

Remembering why the symbol of our religion is the cross, requires one to remember not only the crucifixion but the resurrection also. The resurrection being the defeat of death and the triumph of love. So when I began sanding away the old paint to reveal bare wood, I felt a sense of pride in my savior. Then watching those young men finish the sanding and then painting the new paint on that cross, instilled in me a sense of contentment.

We were setting things right here. We weren’t saving this congregation from any looming threat or from the possibility of shutting down. We were simply setting this place right, and gave them the resources that were due to them for years. Within that contentment, our hearts swelled with joy because of the unyielding appreciation that the folks at Turn Church gave to us. And let me tell you, they gave out of an abundance and a surplus of love and appreciation.

That love and appreciation proved infectious and highly contagious. On the final day of our work, we left with hearts so full that they practically burst at worship that night. We sang loudly and proudly to the Lord and we embraced each other with a genuine warmth that I had not felt since my Baptism.

We wept, we yelled, we laughed, and we grew to love and appreciate each other for who each of us were. This my friends, is that radical love of Jesus that we need to spread across the world.