|Vol. 16 No. 1 January 2014||
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” (1 Peter 2:4-6 ESV).
Living stones? Well that sounds kind of archaic. I mean, who builds with stones anymore? Homes have been built with them. Office buildings have been made of giant piles of stones. We don’t make storage sheds out of stones. Oh! You will find the occasional wall in some parts of the country, where stones are found in abundance, being fabricated using stones. Today, we usually build with very different materials, many of them manmade. We use concrete, brick and steel. We use wood or some recycled composite material. Seldom do we use stones extensively anymore.
So, why talk about the church in terms of stones or living stones? Even in the days of Christ, much of the building was done with brick formed from clay and baked. There are, of course, several reasons. First, stones are not manmade. They are of God. Second, stones will last much longer than the many manmade or fabricated materials that are used today. Just take a good hard look at the ancient ruins of various cultures. Most of the buildings or parts of buildings that were made from bricks and other material such as wood are gone, while the stone structures and statuary are still standing. Stone lasts and stands the test of time. Finally, though we could certainly mention others, each stone is unique. Each has its own shape, color, hardness, etc.
Similarly, the church is a God-created spiritual building that is designed to last and is made up of unique individuals who bring a set of unique skills and talents to the whole. It is granted life by God and continues to live as the men and women who rest on that cornerstone live each day and use their abilities and talents to glorify the name of God.
In this day, do not be content to “go to church,” as if it were some lifeless manmade structure used for worship. Be the church! Be a living stone right where you are, and give God the praise and the glory for all things.
As citizens of the United Sates, we live in a society that is characterized by change. People are not satisfied with the status quo for very long, and become bored without rapid change and progression. Many of us want new cars, new homes, new toys, new clothes, new tools, new mates and new entertainments. Of course, change can often be a bad thing.
Sadly, this obsession with change can be easily observed in religion and ethics. Truth is now considered relative by many, and therefore, right and wrong are simply a matter of personal perspective. Sinful behavior is to be tolerated, not repented of and spoken against. In our present cultural framework, God is a myth, the Bible is a fairytale storybook at best, and Christianity is often an unhealthy way of living. It is interesting that many talk of tolerance, but are far from being tolerant of God, His Word and his faithful people. Things sure have changed a whole lot in the last several decades. The erosion in the ethical fabric of our nation has led to a so-called “post-Christian nation.” As the Lord’s body, we must not allow ourselves to be fooled or deceived by this mentality of change and progression. We must remain firmly grounded in the Word of our awesome God. It is imperative that we all recognize that there are essential changes to be made, but other things that must not ever be changed.
What Must Change?
Change can be a very good and beneficial procedure. Some changes are a natural process (cf. Genesis 1:14; 8:22), set up by God Himself. From a spiritual standpoint, God desires and commands humanity to change. We know this process as “repentance” and “godly growth.” Repentance refers to a change of mind that leads to a change of life. To become a child of God, one must participate in this change (Acts 2:38; 17:30; cf. Luke 13:3, 5). Also, repenting of our sins is a necessary part of the Christian life (Acts 8:22-23; 2 Corinthians 7:9-10; cf. 1 John 1:9). We are expected to “grow up” spiritually as God’s people (Hebrews 5:12-14; cf. 2 Corinthians 10:5). Paul wrote the following to the church at Ephesus:
We should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head – Christ – from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. (Ephesians 4:14-16)