I PETER 2:4-6: “As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” (ESV)
OBSERVATION: What do you think of when hear the word “church”? To most people an immediate image comes to mind of a white steepled building with a cross. Even though we know that this is not what the church is, we tend to visualize it this way. It is so easy to forget what we are called to be and become. The church is never to be about buildings and programs. We have buildings, we conduct programs, but this is not the church. The church is made up of “living stones”. The church is the “ekklesia”, meaning the “called out ones”. It is the gathering of those who have come to the Chief Cornerstone, Jesus Christ, and embraced Him as their personal Savior and Lord.
To these “called out ones” Jesus Christ is precious! They know that He alone has redeemed them from both the penalty and power of sin and death. He alone has given them new life in the Spirit. And He alone is the head of this new gathering of the redeemed called the “Church”. A Christian is someone who follows Jesus Christ. The “Church” is the gathering of Christians. Therefore, as He is a living stone, so are we. And we are becoming the “Church” which is a spiritual house, not made of stones, but made up of living hearts and lives of the redeemed.
The essence and call of the “Church” is also spiritual. We are called to offer up spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. When we stand before the Lord, both individually and corporately, we will not be judged by what we have “built” here on earth. We will be judged by what we have become, and what we have helped others become. Have we helped others become true worshippers of God? Have we helped others grow in faith and love? Have we helped others come to know Jesus Christ as their Chief Cornerstone, their Savior, their Redeemer?
I spent most of my life growing up in Southern California. During that time a very large church was built named the Crystal Cathedral. It truly was a crystal cathedral! My wife and I attended some services there and were awed by its’ beauty. Not only was there the cathedral, but there were other great buildings and a large prayer tower. However, when the founding pastor was no longer able to lead the congregation things changed. Slowly the congregation dwindled until the Crystal Cathedral had to be sold. The Crystal Cathedral was not the “church”. God’s people were the “church” – and the “Church” continues!
In reality we have two commandments that summarize the life of the church. “Love the Lord your God, with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.” And – “Love your neighbor as yourself”. This is the call of the “Church”. These are the “spiritual sacrifices” that are acceptable to God. This is the focus and activity that gives glory to God, lifts up the name of Jesus, and extends His Grace and invitation to all who will believe. The call of the “Church” is to be “living stones” that lead others to become “living stones” – connected to the Lord Jesus Christ, and giving glory to God the Father through the Spirit. Everything else is secondary and temporal!
Lord, help me to live my life as a “living stone”. Give me grace to love You with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength – and power to love my neighbor as myself!
In Jesus Name!