Living stones

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.” 
So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, 
“The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,”
 and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” 
They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. 
— 1 Peter 2:4-8

I once heard it said that every time we sit down in a chair, we put our trust in it. We hardly ever doubt its ability to hold our weight and keep us upright. We expect that the chair will be stable; a chair won’t fail us. 

This statement makes me realize how much faith I put into everyday objects, even ones manmade and less reliable. The battery of the car I drive is infamous for giving out and has stranded me and my friends many times, usually near Steak ’n Shakes around midnight in the rain. I don’t second guess many material things at all—even when I should. How much more would my feeling of security grow if trusting God was as instinctive?

Scripture frequently reminds us of the reliability of God and His promises. Because God is sovereign, He is our ultimate Protector, Refuge, and Strength. Our God is a constant God: “For I the Lord do not change” (Malachi 3:6). Because He is the same God “yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8), in all His might and omnipotence, we can be confident that He is trustworthy.

That’s why the Bible constantly refers to God as the Rock. A psalm of David reads, “I love You, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold” (Psalm 18:1-2). And God proves Himself faithful to His people throughout the Old Testament, just like when He delivered David from his enemies. Unlike a car battery, God doesn’t give up on us.

While reading through 1 Peter, however, I was caught by a new phrase: this one called Jesus a “living stone.” Then, it called us “living stones” as well. At this point, I’m thinking, “What is with the Bible’s preoccupation with rocks?” But I’m also thinking, “How are we worthy to be called ‘living stones’ as Jesus was?”

A stone is symbolic of incredible strength, sturdiness, and immovable force. It asserts itself confidently in mass and size, and few things can truly threaten it. Likewise, God is all-powerful, unshakeable, and completely unintimidated by any other force, especially our sin. His strength goes even beyond that of a seemingly unconquerable stone—the stone was rolled away from the tomb, and Jesus conquered death.

Jesus is also called the Cornerstone: the first stone laid in the foundation of a building upon which the entire structure rests. Without a cornerstone, the foundation is shaky and untrustworthy, and building something upon it would be foolish.

All of these names for Jesus point to Him as the only acceptable foundation for living a life of salvation. Anything and everything else on this earth that masquerades as a suitable foundation will return to dust (Ecclesiastes 3:20). So if built on a worldly foundation, everything we have built ourselves will crumble. The only cornerstone that is completely reliable demonstrated His love by dying a gruesome and humiliating death (Romans 5:8). If we trust as much in the One who proved His love to us through the most selfless act as we trust in chairs every day, how much freer could we live, knowing our complete security in Christ? 

Jesus is our Rock, our living stone, our Cornerstone. There is no other way to build a life that produces fruit except upon Him.

But Jesus is just the first living stone. We are the rest of them. 

Peter also calls us living stones that “are being built up as a spiritual house” (1 Peter 2:5). As active members of the body of Christ, we are part of the new temple in which “the Spirit of God dwells” (1 Corinthians 3:16), meaning that He dwells amongst His followers. Our fellowship with other living stones is crucial in order to bring Heaven down to earth and grow God’s Kingdom. 

Because we are a living, breathing spiritual house, we are also growing. Our community of believers is designed to expand. As we live in obedience to Jesus and share the gospel, the Lord uses us to bring home lost sons and daughters and welcome them into the home where they can know the only perfect love that exists—the perfect love of Jesus.

We are also strengthened through each other. Our community of believers is connected by a tether that has defied death itself, and we have an obligation to care for and bear the burdens of one another (Galatians 6:2). Peter says we have inherited “a holy priesthood;” this is simultaneously an incredible honor and serious responsibility.

God strengthens us through His own strength and might. He blesses us with the endurance of stones, not because we gained it ourselves but because our strength and confidence are drawn from His inexhaustible power. We can have complete confidence that His foundation is sturdy, unfailing, and the only solution for broken people.

Though I still wrestle to understand many of God’s metaphors, the firmness of our living Hope should not be lost on us. In all His strength and power, we rely on Him and build our lives on the Cornerstone that is Jesus Christ.

All creation—stones included—bow to Him.

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