Let us pray: Dear Savior, as we contemplate our new status as Your holy saints, as Your living temples on this earth, and as Your life-changing representatives move us to action! Move us to show forth the light of Your love and our faith in You. For then our lives will serve as life-changing monuments to Your grace, monuments which will last an eternity. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE LIVING STONE!
TEXT: I Peter 2: 4-10
Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
Stones abound in Palestine, much like they do in New England. They served, then as now, as building material for walls, houses, and public buildings. So, why do people like to build with stone? First, because it lasts. Second, because once-completed little upkeep is required. And thirdly, because stone looks good and has a sense of permanence. That later point was driven home to me even more last Spring when we toured Italy. There, everything seems to be constructed of stone. And the bright sun illumines the soft hues of the stone forming a feast for the eye.
By themselves, most rocks are not very beautiful. Even the diamond is rather non-descript until it is cut and faceted to reveal its inner fire. And thus, you might wonder why God the Holy Spirit inspired St. Peter to liken us unto stones. It seems quite unflattering. And yet, it really isn’t. For we’re far from ordinary. He speaks of us as “living stones.” Stones that reflect the beauty and radiance of the ultimate “Living Stone” Jesus Christ. Well, in view of our lesson, we need to ponder our living stone status a bit more by being reminded:
LIVING STONES ARE NOT INERT
Common, planet-earth rocks don’t have a life and they don’t have a soul. They are inert. But, not you! For you and I have been given eternal permanence that is also living and active through faith in the Rock of our salvation, the Rock of ages, Jesus Christ. Listen to how Peter describes our new-found status. “As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him—you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For in Scripture it says: ‘See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.’”
Christ was not inert. He was active and alive. His purpose was to save souls by offering Himself up as a sacrifice for our sins. Just as the cornerstone of any building must be perfectly square, level, and without jagged edges in order for the rest of the building, constructed off that cornerstone, to endure—so Christ was and is! He was born without sin. He never lied, cheated, stole, or coveted anything. He never dishonored His parents. He never lustfully gazed at another woman. And this perfect cornerstone laid down His perfect life on the cross in order to build us into His holy dwelling. Moreover, because He arose and lives again, all of us, all the stones that comprise God’s holy Church, are perfect, beautiful, and living, too. Yes, because of His perfection given to us through faith none of us will ever be put to shame, as Peter says.
Are the many rocks that comprise the walls on the church property here precious? No. That’s because they are inert. They have no life. They are common and ordinary. But you aren’t! You’re all extraordinary because the Living Stone has transferred His living power to each of you. You’re all joined to Him with the mortar of faith. “Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone,’ and, ‘A stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.’ They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.”
Think back to a stone arch bridge that you’ve seen. It is set upon two cornerstones which are perfectly level. Then other stones are added which have a slight angle to them. Finally a capstone is fitted to the top of the arch. It has double angled sides which lock everything into place. Here Jesus is also likened unto that capstone. Our faith is set upon Him, the cornerstone concept, and our faith is also locked into place by Him, the capstone concept. So, from beginning to end, our faith rests upon Christ and His grace. All this building-up occurs when inert rocks, humans, are given the message of salvation and believe it. And those who don’t just end up a jumbled mass of inert rocks which skin shins and break ankles.
So, what’s more valuable? Being a stumbling stone or a living stone? What’s more useful?—Being a living stone on the bridge to heaven or a rock which impedes any progress in that direction? Now to drive home the meaning of all this “rock talk” Peter applies it directly to our lives: “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
Peter’s point is: Living Stones are not Inert! God has made you special in and through Jesus Christ. God has chosen you. God has called each of you to be royal priests, offering spiritual sacrifices to Him on a daily basis in all you think, say, and do. God has built you into a holy nation, a distinct genre of people who belong to Him alone. And His purpose behind all this is for you to preach, teach, and confess His love and goodness. His purpose is for you to declare to the world, starting with your own sphere of influence, to declare Him to be the Way, the Truth, and the Light. As living stones you glow and radiate His love better than any diamond. As living stones you are a living monument of Christ’s eternal love for sinners. As living stones you have received His mercy and forgiveness, His cleansing of your dirty conscience, and now you pulse and radiate His light. They say that diamonds are forever. Wrong! When this earth passes away, so too will diamonds. But as living stones you are forever! Literally!
The word “rock” is a four-letter word. If you called someone a piece of granite, a piece of shale, or a piece of limestone they would probably give you a dirty look. That’s because humans view stones as inert, common and basically worthless. However, as a living stone given life by God Himself, to be called a “rock” is high honor. So, live up to that high honor and show the world the permanence of Christ’s undying love. Amen