Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Wednesday, 6 October 21:
1 Peter 2:5 — “You yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood.”
You are a stone that can’t fulfill its purpose unless it is connected and oriented to the Cornerstone (Jesus) and unless it is also connected tightly to the other stones (fellow Christians). There is no space between temple stones, and they each have their own unique place, support one another, and make each other strong, secure, immovable. The isolated Christian who is not united with the church family, the body of Christ, is not fulfilling his/her purpose and is not properly connected with the Cornerstone of Jesus, regardless of what he/she might think. We learn to love Jesus more and more primarily through strong, tight connections with family and the church body. No temple stone is independently special but rather gains value with the others. Every stone in the temple has its unique position, and they are all required for the integrity of the building. A stone that is missing or out of place is a sore sight to the Architect.
Paul uses another analogy, the human body, to describe how essential it is for us to be fully united with fellow Christians – “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ…. The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you,’ nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’” (1 Corinthians 12:12, 21) What a gory and shocking scene it would be to discover a dismembered human body. Yet, many are not horrified to see Christians disconnected from their local church.
Some Christians don’t attend church or hardly participate in church community because they don’t like some of the people in the church, perhaps considering them to be hypocritical, unloving, or perhaps simply immature. However Paul explains that even these challenging people are vital to the health of the body – “The parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.” (1 Corinthians 12:22-26) The church body not only helps protect us from ourselves, but it also teaches us how to love those who are hard to love, to grow in Christ-like love – “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?” (Matthew 5:46) When we share the love of Christ with those within our church community who “need it,” we not only have the opportunity to help them grow, we will also likely discover that we were the ones who needed to grow in the love of Christ all along and that God was using everyone in the body to develop us.
- John 17:22, 23 — The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.
1 Peter 2:9 — “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.”
Also, “if you are a Christian, you are a priest, chosen by God. As a member of the royal priesthood you have constant access to the King. If there is ever a need in your life, you don’t have to find an intermediary or enlist another priest in order to gain a hearing from the King. Your position as a royal priest allows you direct access. This privilege describes your position as a priest. However, priests also have a function. It is the responsibility of a priest to work within a priesthood. Scripture does not promote the practice of individual priests, each with a separate ministry. Rather, priests function together (Lev. 9:1). An unbiblical sense of individualism can isolate you from functioning within God’s royal priesthood as He intended.” (Henry T. Blackaby)
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 6 October 21: Strengthen your bonds with your Cornerstone and fellow ‘temple stones,’ the people of your spiritual nation. Remember Jesus’ prayer to the Father for you – “…that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” (John 17:22, 23)