Living Stones

hazy-water

We’ve been examine the roles of stones in the Bible through our last couple of lessons. Two weeks ago, my dad kicked things off by discussing stones as memorials and as symbols or permanence. He emphasized how we have a covenant with God written on our hearts as in stone that is unchangeable and unbreakable. Then Steve talked about us having a foundation made of stone. That foundation is built in faith, and its cornerstone is Christ.

Today, we’re going to start in I Peter 2:

So rid yourselves of all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all slander. Like newborn infants, desire the pure spiritual milk, so that you may grow by it for your salvation, since you have tasted that the Lord is good. Coming to Him, a living stone — rejected by men but chosen and valuable to God — you yourselves, as living stones, are being built into a spiritual house for a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

Upon the rock of Christ, we are His building materials. We are the living stones that make His temple.

Smooth Stones

In I Peter 4:2, Peter says that Christ was rejected as a cornerstone, and the same can be said of each and every one of us. You see, good building stones are rigid. They are carved. They have sharp corners, but this is not how we are to be. Later in this same chapter, Peter says that we should be submissive people, that we should never return evil for evil, and that we should always love and honor others — even when we don’t feel they deserve it. We are stones that are smooth, not rough. We are strong without being abrasive.

We are this way because of our Father’s love for us. John 4:14 and John 7:38 both record Jesus saying that fountains of living water will flow within those who believe, and Isaiah 58:11 says those who follow after God will be like a spring that never runs dry. In other passages, we can find God’s love described as rivers and streams. It is a perpetual flow that surrounds and engulfs us. What happens to stones in such a current? They are worn smooth.

Held Together By Faith

There’s a problem with stones that are shaped by nature rather than man: they are difficult to build with. You have to have something that holds them together, or they’re just going to fall apart. For us, that supporting material is our faith. Ephesians 4:4 tells us we have been called to be one body in one Spirit. We have one hope, one God, and one faith. It is that which fills in the gaps that might separate us. Our faith unites us and makes us one in Christ.

This means we cannot let anything in that tears our unity apart. Staying in Ephesians 4, Paul says, beginning in verse 31, that we should rid ourselves of shouting, bitterness, and wrath. When divisive attitudes come between us, they chip away at the mortar holding us together. When we promote pride and personal agendas, we chip away at that mortar. Instead, as verse 32 points out, we should be kind, understanding, and forgiving. This helps strengthen the bond of unity between us and holds us together as Christ’s church.

Submissive but Strong

When God’s love washed over us and we dwell in unity, certain aspects of our personalities will erode away. We cannot help but submit to the way God’s love shapes us. It will make us less abrasive. We become smoother. Isaiah 64:8 puts it in terms of clay. He shapes us and molds us in his way as the currents of a river shapes the rocks it passes over and through. That process may be gradual, but it is a powerful force. Consider that the Grand Canyon was shaped by a river. How much more can God shape us if we let Him?

For His love to shape us so completely, we have to submerse ourselves completely. Think about Peter as an example. More than once, he finds his way to Christ through water. In Matthew 14:22, Peter falters when trying to reach Jesus, but he deserves this much: he got out of the boat. He leapt toward Jesus even when it seemed unrealistic. In John 21, after Jesus’ death and resurrection, Peter finds water between himself and His savior, and he throws himself in again, swimming to the shore to be with Christ. We should be like that. We should be so completely immersed in Jesus’ teachings, His examples, and His love that we let it overwhelm and shape us into something new and beautiful. We retain inner strength and conviction, but all of our outward roughness is washed away.

Finally, I Peter 2:4 describes us as valuable stones. In verse 9, Peter calls us a royal priesthood chosen by God. After we are reshaped by God, we may not seem to have great value to the world, but we were and will always be greatly valuable to God. He wants us to be with Him. He wants us to trust in Him as Peter looked to Christ for salvation. He wants to shape us into something individually better than we were and then collectively build us into something even greater. In that effort, we should be united in faith, hope, and love. We should be strengthening each other as we let God strengthen us. This is what it means to be living stones.

lesson by Robert Smelser