My friends, I know summer is upon you and many of you are in the throws of school ending, schedules changing, and summer plans. Please know that we love that you make this place a part of your busy lives—Lynn and I are honored to be a part of your lives.
On Saturday, I left you with two questions. What was a cornerstone and Who was/is that cornerstone?
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
Peter is quoting that last part from Isaiah 28:16, which is a prophetic word about the Messiah. Jesus is the cornerstone, which references the foundation of the temples when built. Usually larger, a cornerstone was placed in the corner of the foundation to ensure the building was square and stable. The cornerstone “set the foundation,” so to speak.
Peter is very carefully connecting our identity to who Jesus is in his reference to calling us living stones with Jesus as our cornerstone. And not only that. This is about the church. Not only were people now reborn. So was the church. Living stones to build a spiritual house…
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. — 1 Peter 2:9-10 ESV
Peter has laid the ground work to bring understanding of how this all happened so that the early believers would be clear in who they were now. Their identity.
Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people…
And their purpose in this new church as well. No longer would it be up to priests to teach and share the message of God. All were and are now called to share the message of the Good News. Interestingly, the NLT includes a little more. Take a look at verse nine again.
But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. — 1Peter 1:9 NLT (emphasis mine)
Which then leads to what Peter says in verse 12.
Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world. — 1 Peter 1:12
My friends, we live with unbelieving “neighbors” every day, right in our own homes, and because of who we belong to and who God says we are, we are like that cornerstone in our own homes because Jesus lives in us. This reminds me yet again of the verse that speaks of how we sanctify our homes.
For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. — 1 Cor. 7:14
So, in this all encompassing plan of God that literally makes my head hurt and my heart swell when I try to comprehend it all, we were “set up” to be the children of God, precious and chosen to be the church of Christ, built upon an amazing legacy.
Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. — Eph. 2:20
Now you know that Lynn and I know this is challenging. We live it too. But when we stand firm in knowing who we are and whose we are, we rest in the power and provision of our Most High God.
Peter even tells how to follow Jesus.
For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.
He never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone.
He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered.
He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly.
He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right.
By his wounds you are healed.
Once you were like sheep who wandered away.
But now you have turned to your Shepherd, the Guardian of your souls. — 1 Peter 2:21-25
This list is so power packed with God’s truth and provision. Let’s break it down to how it applies to us today, especially in our mismatched homes.
- Jesus never sinned, nor deceived. He is our model to not only emulate to live godly lives, but He also empowers us to do so with the help of His Holy Spirit who indwells us, because Christ died to put this into place. He is our truth. Don’t compromise to accommodate.
- Jesus did not retaliate. I don’t know about you, but when I’m “attacked,” I naturally want to defend myself. But I’ve learned and am still learning that I don’t have to defend myself. I have nothing to prove (i.e. I don’t have to prove myself to others in order to be secure in who I am), nor do I have to prove God. He’s much better at it than I am anyway. God has taught me to trust Him to be my defender, which brings us to the next point.
- Jesus left His case in the hands of God. Jesus knew who He was. He didn’t need to prove it, because He knew God would. Events would play out and reveal the Truth—Jesus. My friends, I have seen God do this over and over again. It isn’t easy, trust me, I know. But if I try to defend myself, I look foolish. If I trust God to do it, He will often make my accuser look foolish. That doesn’t give me permission to gloat, and often in this process, God works in my heart to have compassion for my accuser. Whoever it may be. Follow the Holy Spirit’s prompting for what to say or NOT to say and trust God to be your defender.
- Jesus personally carried our sins so we can live for what is right. And He did this for our pre-believers just as He did this for us. We are freed to live for what is right. Our pre-believers have not embraced this truth yet, so we can’t expect them to live according to that standard. They can live moral lives within their own ability, but they will fall short, just as we did and still do at times. The point here is what Peter said, “do good, what is right, even if it’s hard.” There are times when we can compromise without sinning, but we must not sin to compromise. I hope that makes sense. Sometime standing for the truth makes us a target, but will we stand? For Jesus, yes, I will stand.
- The wounds Jesus suffered healed us. And I believe they continue to heal us. As Paul says, continue to work out your salvation. It’s an on-going, transforming process. We are saved from the pit of hell the moment we accept Jesus as our Lord, but our salvation is an ongoing process. Jesus died once but He loves forever. His love transforms us. Declare this truth over your life.
- He guards our souls. He is the lover of our souls. He did all this to ensure our place with Him. The greatest deception the enemy has accomplished among believers today is to believe God doesn’t love us. But when we really think it through, we can see the lie for what it really is. Why would Jesus suffer and die for us if He didn’t love us? He didn’t just do this to be done with us. He did it to have a deep and intimate relationship with Him. He has drawn us to Him out of love, not duty.
Wow, this post has gone long. Sorry about that, my friends. So much good stuff in this part of Peter. I especially love the third point about leaving our case in the hand of God. How about you? Which point spoke to your heart most?