Like Living Stones

As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him—you 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. __1 Peter 2:4-5 NIV

Why, after nearly 2000 years, don’t more people who profess to follow Christ look more like Christ? Could it be because church-as-they-know-it has failed to teach them how Jesus sees the Church-as-He-builds-it?

In the verse above, Peter was writing to “God’s elect, exiles scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, [as well as all those scattered throughout the world throughout all generations] who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood…” (1 Peter 1:1-2 NIV)!

Ask any good church member to tell you all about church and you’re going to learn a lot of different things, including:

  • the name of his “church”
  • where it (the church building) is located
  • what “denomination” the “church” is associated with
  • what time and how often services are held
  • who the pastor is, and what the good church member thinks of him
  • what style of music this person’s “church” typically uses during services
  • what style dress is expected of those who attend
  • particular doctrines or descriptors the good church member associates with his or her church, i.e. “Spirit-filled”, “Trinitarian”, “Reformed”, “Mainline”, etc.

But a careful reading of the New Testament (1 Peter is just one example of passages that reveal how Jesus sees His Church) shows that the bullet points above really have nothing to do with His Church (the ekklesia)–the one He told Peter and the disciples He would build (Matthew 16:18).

The Amplified Bible renders 1 Peter 2: 4-5:

Come to Him [then, to that] Living Stone which men tried and threw away, but which is chosen [and] precious in God’s sight. [Come] and, like living stones, be yourselves built [into] a spiritual house, for a holy (dedicated, consecrated) priesthood, to offer up [those] spiritual sacrifices [that are] acceptable and pleasing to God through Jesus Christ.

Another translation says:

Welcome to the living Stone, the source of life. The workmen took one look and threw it out; God set it in the place of honor. Present yourselves as building stones for the construction of a sanctuary vibrant with life, in which you’ll serve as holy priests offering Christ-approved lives up to God.__(1 Peter 2:4-5) The Message

If Jesus is the Living Stone, thrown away by men, but set in His place of Honor by God our Father… and IF, as the children of God (John 1:12; Romans 8:14-19), we should look more like Jesus, the firstborn of many brothers and sisters (Romans 8:29 NIV), maybe one reason we don’t look more like Him is that we’ve never been told we are “living stones”—just like HIM!

Jesus sees us as living stones with which HE builds a spiritual house as His dwelling among us!

There is no precedent in scripture for the “church building”, but it took only a couple of generations for followers of the Way to adopt “Christianity” and resurrect the Old Covenant paradigm of a literal temple building and a pyramidal leadership hierarchy. Instead of looking more like Christ, the best Christians can do is walk around looking like “good church members”. The institutional church molds people into the image and likeness of the institutional church!

Even people who claim their churches are “Spirit-filled” and “Spirit-led” are under the delusion that God is blessing them when everything that’s going on in their church buildings is being planned and led by human beings. The institutional church has become frighteningly adept at creating an emotional “experience” that makes people feel holy for an hour or so once a week.

Pay attention to the sermon, the church’s mission statement, the newsletters and the church bulletins and ask yourself, “Is the primary focus on Jesus Christ of Nazareth… the Only Begotten Son of the Father…the Word Made Flesh…Crucified, Dead and Buried…Risen and seated at the Father’s right hand…the Firstborn of many Brothers and Sisters—or is the message of this ‘church’ about ‘this church’?”  In Christ, there should be NO talk about:

  • how we do church
  • how we look as a church
  • how we get others to “come to our church”
  • how we pay for “the upkeep of our church”
  • what “tribe” or “denomination” we are, “as a church”

There is no scriptural basis for any of the above—not even for the concept of a
paid pastor!*

But the “me, me, me-centered” message and marketing is a dead giveaway. The “me-centered” gospel can’t produce transformation that allows us to live holy lives set apart from the world but among the world—in ways that touch the world!

Such transformation only occurs when believers understand the way of the cross (joining Christ daily in His death and resurrection) and are willing to die daily to be transformed. Living stones—children of God who have died to the old fallen self. Ordinary stones that have been made holy!

Here by the water,
I’ll build an altar to praise Him,
Out of the stones that I’ve found here
I’ll set them down here, rough as they are…
Knowing You can make them holy.

_______________________________________________________________________
* Cf: Pagan Christianity? by Frank Viola and George Barna; The Bubble Will Burst by David Newby: The Pastor Has No Clothes by Jon Zens.

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Comments

  1. As one who is denominationally challenged and has been church burned this is refreshing and worth not only reading but also sharing. Bright blessings.

  2. OUTSTANDING PIECE!!!
    I agree with this whole heartedly. I must re-blog for others to read!!

  3. Hi Leah, I know you through OCT.
    “Such transformation only occurs when believers understand the way of the cross (joining Christ daily in His death and resurrection) and are willing to die daily to be transformed. Living stones—children of God who have died to the old fallen self. Ordinary stones that have been made holy!”

    Lovely words. Thanks for sharing!

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