Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood,
to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
(1 Peter 2:5 - KJV)
If you spend much time in a garden, you will inevitably have to deal with rocks. It seems as if the earth grows rocks. I plant beans, cucumbers and tomatoes and the soil grows rocks! Most of these rocks are discarded into piles to be thrown in a ditch or down the hill. Some however will be used to outline driveways, construct mailboxes or even build houses. I’ve always been amazed at rock houses. I marvel at the craftsmanship that goes into taking a bunch of irregular, mismatched stones and turning them into a building. It would seem to me that before these stones could be used for construction, someone would need to take some time smoothing out the irregularities, knocking off the rough edges and making them fit with their neighbors. But rock houses are not always build this way. Our Scripture lesson this morning reminds us that the church of Jesus Christ is much like these rock houses. God does not wait for us to have all of the jagged edges smoothed or the rounded corners removed before he uses us to build his church. The classic example of this is the Apostle Peter. Peter was the antithesis of what you might think an apostle of Jesus should be. He was inarticulate, often said the most inappropriate things, and when the chips were down he took off running. Peter was certainly a stone which by all rights should have been rejected. Thankfully, this is not how God works. God chose Peter to be the foundation of His church. On the banks of the Sea of Galilee Jesus reinstated him (John 21:15ff). And we all know Peter went on to be a central figure in the emerging church. I guess if there is a moral to all of this it would be if you see yourself as unworthy to be a part of God’s kingdom, if you believe yourself to be too stained, too rough to enter into a relationship with your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, just think back on Peter. If God was willing to use Peter, there is absolutely no one who is beyond redemption through Jesus Christ our Lord. Thanks be to God!
Marked for Life
1 John 3:16-24
The image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd is probably one of the most cherished symbols in all of Christendom. The community of faith which gathered around John’s gospel in the first century understood that they were a people who were marked for life by the cross of Christ. Contemporary opinion often sees Jesus’ death on the cross as being an event that was forced upon him, or in the least offensive terms one in which he reluctantly participated. Nothing could be further from the truth. We learn in John’s gospel that he willingly laid down his life. All of the suffering and all of the pain were gladly accepted of his own volition. Thus you and I are ready recipients of this great gift. Whatever degree of tragedy incorporated into Jesus’ crucifixion has been far outweighed by the reality and triumph of the resurrection. There are those who see Jesus as the victim, but we Christians understand him to be the victor. Jesus said, “The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” This is how the Good Shepherd gathers his flock. The church gathers in memory of this life given freely for all. There is something in this forfeited life which marks each and every one of us. We gather believing that sacrificial living is the way to live into abundant life. Christian living is life poured out so that it can be refilled from God’s everlasting fountain of grace and mercy. This is what life, what love really looks like. He laid down his life for us!
Blessings in Christ our Good Shepherd,