I was privileged when I was a Pastor to have had 3 buildings; a converted cow-shed; then a smaller church building which was originally a Unitarian Church and then a very large Methodist Chapel built in 1839 which we renovated. I loved the cow-shed as much as the Chapel. But I knew that they were just stones. It was the people within the buildings that made them come alive.
To a people who know suffering and the difficulty of remaining as a follower of Jesus because of hardship and persecution, Peter writes this:-
“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 v 4-5)
Jesus is the foundation, the living Stone, the capstone, chief cornerstone, however you want to word it. He was rejected and he suffered even though he was chosen and precious to God.
What is Peter trying to say?
It may be tough but it was also tough for the very foundation of your life, Jesus.
It does not mean you have not been chosen by God.
It does not mean you are not precious to Him.
In fact following Jesus means that it is possible that everything around you will value you far less than God does.
Because ‘you also’ … this is what it means to follow Christ.
As I look back on those 3 buildings I reflect on the people who formed the spiritual house of those places. I can hear the joy; I can see the worship; it is so easy to be right there in the centre again of all that was being experienced as lives were being transformed, salvations, baptisms, healings as the manifest presence of God came upon His people. As the Pastor for these people I can also easily remember the pain, the tears, the suffering that these people also had in their lives, the difficulty to keep on following Jesus in the context of their world.
Yet though they are scattered all over the UK and the world, in Europe, Africa, Asia and USA, I know in those buildings these people were becoming more like Jesus in their suffering and through it all they were being built into a spiritual house, more than just a community, they were a temple. They had become living stones built upon the Living Stone.