Field Stone Cottage Blog

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Living Stones

We are part of a very small church that is about to become a mission work of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. We do not have a regular pastor yet but on Sunday, our sermon was delivered by the Rev. Ross W. Graham, General Secretary for the Committee on Home Missions and Church Extension of the OPC. The Scripture that he used was 1 Peter 2:1-10.

1Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. 2Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, 3now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.

4As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him— 5you 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. 6For 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." 7Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe,
"The stone the builders rejected
has become the capstone, 8and,
"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.

9But 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. 10Once 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.

His message for our little church, at the very beginning of construction, gave me much to think about. Rev. Graham began by speaking of the way in which this passage brings us back to Peter's confession of Jesus as "the Christ, the Son of the living God" in Matthew 16:16 and Jesus's response in the verses that follow, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it." He reminded us that "this rock" refers to the gospel of faith in Jesus Christ. From there, we turned to the apparent contradiction of the term "living stone." He pointed out that stones do not generally have life as we think of it but the manner in which this particular Stone does is explained in verses 6-8. He used the familiar explanation of the way a cornerstone determines the manner in which the whole building takes shape and reminded us of verse 5, that we also, each one of us, are living stones that God is using in His construction business! Yes, God is in the business of building His church and he is chipping away at each one of us, making us useful in His building project. Not only that, not only is He preparing each one presently in our tiny congregation, He is preparing others to join with us, slowly chiseling each of us, believers and even those who are presently unbelievers, according to His will. And since we are living stones, that chipping and chiseling often hurts! Those who view the construction site without a long-term (eternal) view often can miss out on seeing its ultimate form and purpose, instead just gaining an impression of a mess. That would be not only "outsiders" but even many of us, the impatient ones who often want things NOW. Consistent with that long-term view, as any homeowner knows, the projects are never really finished. As soon as one area is remodeled, it reveals that the next room is worn and shabby. Or sometimes we think that just a little repair needs to be done, something like replacing the kitchen sink faucet which was the plan at the cottage this past weekend, but once started, it becomes apparent that the job is going to involve a lot more than you thought. Like taking up the kitchen sink to reseal it to the counter-top. It is the same with God's ongoing church building. As soon as one aspect is rebuilt, another needs attention. And as Rev. Graham said, not only are we God's building blocks, the living stones, we are also His tools. We are the ones that are doing the work under His direction.

At this point in our church development, this message was one of excitement, yes, but also one of sobering reality. Building projects are inherently exhilarating but they also involve hard work and commitment for the long haul. They involve bone aching fatigue and sometimes even pain. But if we keep our eyes on the end result, the reason for the work, looking back sometimes at what God has accomplished through us and in us, and rely on Him for the strength to keep going, it is humbling and overwhelming! If we focus on verses 9 and 10 of this passage, how can we be discouraged?


Kim from Hiraeth said...

T'was a word fitly spoken for our little congregation!

"Til Christ is formed in you" is what keeps coming back to my mind, as you know.

rosemary said...

"Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God!" What an amazing reality. Sounds like a tremendous sermon for a fledgling church. May God use you all for his purpose and glory.

Dorothy said...

Thank you, Rosemary.