God is with you - Part 11
1 Peter 2v4-8a
Living stones and dead stones
26th May 2017
1 Peter 2v4-5
In our studies in 1 Peter, we've thought already about one self image a Christian should have: I am a superhero. Here's another: I am a living stone in the temple of God. And another: I am a priest in God's service. I am here to offer spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God.
In this letter, Peter keeps comparing the church to the Old Testament people of God. And one of their greatest concepts was the temple, with the priestly functions and the blood sacrifices, and God says the church is like that. The first difference between the ancient temple and the church is that temple was made out of stones hewn out of the rock but today's temple is made out of you and me - living stones.
A second difference is that then the priesthood was part of the people of God - the tribe of Levi and in particular the family of Aaron - now it's all of us. All Christians are priests.
Then the priests made sacrifices of bulls and doves and other animals. Now, because Jesus is the only blood sacrifice we need and He has already laid down his life for us, we don't offer any more blood sacrifices. Our sacrifices are the sacrifice of praise, the sacrifice of obedience, the sacrifice of worship. And if you're a Christian, the offering of these sacrifices is your role.
This is kind of awesome; we get involved in the priestly sacrifices God. What a responsibility! And what a privilege! Who are we to be allowed anywhere near the temple of God? But we are the temple of God!
How's that for a self-image?
1 Peter 2v6-7a
God has taken away our shame through Jesus's redeeming sacrifice. And to you who believe, Jesus is precious. What's your favourite word? Isn't it "Jesus"? Doesn't it make you go all wibbly when you say it? It's the most wonderful word to us! We love Jesus so much that can't imaging not loving Jesus. We can't imagine not depending in Him. We can't imagine not wanting to praise Him. We can't imagine not wanting to give thanks to Him. We can't imagine a reality without Him. To us, the most horrifying thought in the universe is to be without Jesus, but we never will be.
1 Peter 2v7b-8a
This quote from Isaiah 8v14 is saying that there is a temple made of living stones, and the most important stone, the stone from which all the other stones get their reference and find their right position, is Jesus Christ. Either you accept that fact or you reject it.
By the grace and mercy of God we have accepted it, and we have been born again, and we are now priests in His temple: male and female, slave and free, Jewish and Greek even English.
But Jesus is also a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall. We live in a society today where God's church contain thousands and thousands of truly Jesus-loving people but we also live in a society where some people are indifferent to the things of God but many hate the name of Jesus. Many hate the idea that we should obey the Bible. Many don't just stand indifferent to God but seriously oppose the very idea of God and of Christ.
Recently, on the streets of Bristol, two Christians were arrested, convicted and fined for saying that Jesus is the only way to God. There are people in our country, including some magistrates, who hate the gospel.
Jesus the stone is making some men and women stumble and fall. And He's turning other people into the glorious people of God full of the Holy Spirit and full of love, peace, gentleness, kindness and perseverance. Every person gets to choose. We can embrace Jesus as the cornerstone of the temple, the foundation of the people of God, or we can reject Him.