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“Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, ‘Behold, I lay in Zion A chief cornerstone, elect, precious, And he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.'” (1 Peter 2:4-6)

When contractors are building a house, they use a wide variety of materials to construct it. Those materials may include concrete, wood, sheet rock, bricks, and on occasion stones. As a building material, stones are unique, because they come in many shapes, sizes, and colors.

In his writing concerning the Holy Christian Church, the apostle Peter uses a metaphor, depicting Christ’s Church of believers as a spiritual house made up of stones. They are not cold and lifeless stones, but rather living stones, being spiritually alive in Christ Jesus.

Just as each stone used in building a house is unique, so also is each Christian. Believers come in different sizes, ages, abilities, nationalities, and ethnic backgrounds. As different as we may be, we are all joined together to make up one spiritual house through faith in Christ Jesus.

Faith in Jesus is key to our being included in God’s special house, for He is the one and only Living Stone that God’s house could be built upon. So crucial is the crucified and risen Lord Jesus that Peter speaks of Him as the “chief cornerstone” (verse 6). Even as a cornerstone used in a material building is important, determining the different lines extending out from it and making the difference between having a stable building or a rickety one, so also our Chief Cornerstone provides us with a sure and unshakeable foundation with His inspired Word and redemptive work.

Jesus is a very precious Stone to the heavenly Father, for He is the only-begotten Son of God. In eternity, God in His infinite wisdom and unconditional love chose this precious Stone for us to be founded on, because Jesus alone could redeem us sinful, lifeless stones unto God, make us alive unto God, enable us to be righteous in God’s sight, and bless us with the eternal inheritance of heaven.

Not only are we believers God’s spiritual house, but in Christ we are also regarded as holy priests who are to serve in His temple. We were made priests of God for a very special purpose, and that purpose is to live our lives unto God, serving Him by offering up spiritual sacrifices. Those sacrifices can include many different things, like giving our time, talents, financial resources, and energy in the service of God’s kingdom. Our acts of service are found to be God-pleasing and acceptable only when they are done out of faith in Christ and in the spirit of Christian love.

When a contractor has completed the construction of a house, he turns the keys over to the owner of that house, and the building is finished. This is not the case with God’s spiritual house of believers. Peter speaks of us “being built up” in an ongoing process. As a popular sign reads, “God’s work with me is not done.” Through our continued use of God’s Word and sacrament, the Lord enables us to be built up in ever-increasing measure in religious knowledge, spiritual faith, and Christian love.

Praise be to God for including us in His spiritual house!

Mark Gullerud is retired from the pastoral ministry. He lives in Sunnyvale, California.