Sunday 28 February
Called to Belong and to be Shaped by God
1 Peter chapter 2 verses 4 to 10
As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans 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.”
Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe,
“The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone,”
“A stone that causes people to stumble
and a rock that makes them fall.”
They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, 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 loves His Saviour and describes Him as “precious” in verse 4 and He means truly priceless. And let me remind you all that the previous verses encourage us "to taste and see" our astounding LORD.
Peter is also keen to stress the connection of Christ the Word of God with the written word of God in the scriptures and how belief and trust in them are essential for us to obtain eternal life. Christians who delight in the word grow and any who backslide, neglect the precious Word/word of God. These can easily be seen in lack of prayer conversation with Jesus the Word of God and the lack of daily quiet time reading God’s word.
Peter begins this part by talking about “coming to Him” – He is not distant or unreachable and Him being a living stone. Our God never sleeps or slumbers and is a “living stone”. Perhaps it surprises you that you too can be a “living stone” verse 5?
Our churches are built from dead stones and are rooted to one spot. Living stones are built into a living, breathing, moving Temple as we journey through life together with other living stones and by the help of the Holy Spirit. Living things grow, have life and produce a polished finish. That word for stones in the Greek here “Lithos” means polished like a gemstone. This is a picture of what the church can be – A spiritual living house that goes rather than sits. I suspect the polishing process takes time though.
Peter speaks now of Christ as both the foundation stone and the corner-stone in verses 6-8. The emphasis is on Christ exalted too. Christ is head of the church, this living temple that we can join.
Belief is of great importance because it affects our present and our future. Good buildings have good foundations, bad ones fall and subside. With Christ we have a solid foundation for now and for all eternity. We grow to discover how precious He is in our lives. The converse is that some will disobey and refuse to believe and it seals their own fate for eternity. Just like back then and throughout the ages many of them oppressed, mocked and persecuted God’s people in various ways.
Some might not like that, but everyone is invited to the great Banquet, but many do not exercise their invitation as they have other, wrong priorities. In effect they have gambled for things that will not last rather than the best destiny we can ever have.
We need to be encouraged by this, the positive future we have been graciously given and driven by the need to help the lost as well as we possibly can. After all, would we not want others to do exactly that if we were in the shoes of the lost?
We may have been oppressed or suffered for our faith but here is a climax of encouragement central to this chapter verses 9 and 10. Believers in God have been chosen by Him and this applies to believers corporately as all the Old Testamen terms quoted here are corporate rather than individual.
We are part of the biggest and best family ever, and we are adopted as heirs of the King of Kings. We are both a royal priesthood and a holy nation (verse 9 originally from Exodus 19 verses 1-6) 'We are kings and queens, priests along with Christ. Called to worship and rule with Christ – We belong as we are reworked and reshaped for these holy and noble tasks'.
Our value is beyond all calculation, and it is God Himself who says so and pledges to keep us. Zechariah chapter 2 verses 10-11 says, “Sing and rejoice, for behold, I am coming and I will dwell in your midst,” says the Lord. Many nations shall be joined to the Lord in that day, and they shall become My people. And I will dwell in your midst”.
This idea of serving God is much more attractive than most people first perceive. As we declare Him in worship, we are witnesses to the lost (verse 9) and we have eternal purpose. Wesley realised this as he articulates it for us in his Hymn,
'Long my imprisoned spirit lay
Fast bound in sin and nature's night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray,
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee'.
It is echoed also in the modern version of Amazing Grace MY CHAINS ARE GONE. Doesn’t that sound wonderful and worthwhile – purposeful – walking in the light of the LORD rather than in darkness? Free from shame, filled with joy belonging to the royal family of our loving, faithful and gracious heavenly Father, supported by the Son of God and helped and comforted by the Holy Spirit. May we all enjoy the implications of God’s holy word today and every day for all eternity