May 17, 2020

Peter’s Letter: “From Rocks to Living Stones”

Scripture Reading: I Peter 2:4-10

Our reading today begins with a strange metaphor. In I Peter 2:4 the apostle writes, “As you come to him, the living Stone …” What does it mean to come to a “Living Stone”? That’s a strange metaphor because there is nothing more lifeless than a stone. But the apostle now speaks of a “living” Stone. Perhaps this is not such a strange metaphor because what does the name Peter mean? Peter means “rock”. While it is true that a rock and a stone are not exactly the same thing (they are two different words in the original language and it appears from the context in this letter that a “stone” is a rock that has been shaped for building purposes) they have the same essence. All building stones began as rocks of some sort. Could it be that this apostle whose name means “Rock” has an affinity for the metaphor he speaks of in our text? I believe he does.

Questions:

What was Peter’s original name? When was it changed?
Who is the living “Stone” to whom Peter is referring?

Peter (and all the apostles) received and responded to a calling from Jesus that was unique. They stand in line with the Old Testament prophets in order to proclaim the Word of the Lord. Faithful proclamation of the gospel calls people to Jesus Christ. The word “come” in verse 4 indicates an ongoing action. Those who are called and respond to this work become part of a building project. Verse 5 says we come in order to be joined into a building. Wayne Grudem writes, “There is encouragement in these verses in this sense: “As you (keep on) coming to Christ (in worship, in prayer and praise), you are (continually) being built up into a spiritual temple, a place in which God more and more fully dwells.”

Questions:

What does Peter mean by us being built “into a spiritual house”? What is the Old Testament background to this metaphor?
What is God building in this world through the witness and work of his Church?
What does it mean to live “coram deo”?

I Peter 2:9 says, “But you are 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.” These are not random labels. This is the very description given to the people of Israel in the Old Testament: Chosen, Royal, Holy, and Special to God. The apostle is saying when we are in Christ we are in the family of God and therefore, we are Chosen, Royal, Holy, and Special to God.

Questions:

What “labels” might you want to attach to yourself?
What “labels” have been placed on you by others that you never wanted?
What does Peter’s description of the Church mean to you?

Peter understands his metaphor very well. The man whose name means “the Rock” invites us to become “living stones” as we come to Christ, the precious and chosen cornerstone of our lives. However, keep this in mind: Changing a rock into a building stone requires some working!

As God shapes us this does not always mean everything will go well for us. Being a Christian is no guarantee of a life free from pain, disappointments, and misery. C.S. Lewis said that pain is God’s megaphone to awake a sleeping world. God is a Sculptor and the blows from his chisel may hurt very much for a time. But each blow is shaping us to be living stones who are being built into a spiritual house. And so, we live by faith. We entrust ourselves to the care of a Sovereign God who has loved us from eternity. In Christ we belong to our Creator and the Kingdom which is being built in this world. Amen.