By Brock Bondurant
1 Peter 2:4-5 – As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual sacrifice acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
I remember the very first time I heard the word ‘grace’; not ‘grace’ in the sense of beauty and poise, but a different type of ‘grace’ – ‘grace’ as in what it means to receive something you didn’t earn. The first time I heard it was when I was in college, just a kid bouncing from idol to idol, each one resulting in a new rock bottom moment.
I wouldn’t say that I grew up in the Church, but I had enough church experience to think that somewhere along the lines I heard the Gospel. Whether I did or didn’t, it never sunk in. ‘Christianity’ to me was all about dead religion, trying to stack up enough good deeds (or at least more than the next guy) to somehow gain the favor of this invisible being that had the power to let me go to Heaven or send me to burn in the bad place. It seems ridiculous to think about it, right – that me going to church, praying sometimes, and reading this big boring book once in a blue moon would somehow gain me the favor of the God of the Universe? But maybe especially because I was an athlete the whole ‘checking the boxes’ thing made more sense that ‘grace’ concept.
But as I heard this new word and ‘The Gospel’ it was central to, I could feel the yearning in my heart begin to feel filled. It was this same yearning that led me to put my identity in the idols of this world – status, sex, substance – and fall flat on my face every time. But through the story of Jesus and his grace I found hope; only I thought I had to clean myself up before coming to Jesus. That was when my mentor read this passage in Exodus 20 to me:
25If you make me an altar of stone, you shall not build it of hewn stones, for if you wield your tool on it you profane it.
I didn’t get it… until he explained. God doesn’t want stones that we chisel into perfect squares, he wants the stones as they are, living stones. I understood this meant that I was the stone. I had spent all my life trying to pretty myself up in order to be loved. If it was Jesus I wanted to be loved by, I thought it came through religion or good behavior. But he just wanted me as I was – could only take me as I was! There was no amount of chiseling I could do to myself to earn his love. That’s not grace and Jesus extends grace.
Then I saw the times where God has rejected man-made stones. In Genesis 11, humanity bands together at Babel to build a tower to themselves in which they used bricks of their own works and volition. God saw what they were building in their pride and put an end to their foolishness. In Exodus, God’s people are enslaved in Egypt to make bricks in order to build cities for a man that called himself a god (Exodus 5).
When God calls us to be living stones, he calls us to freedom; freedom from slavery to pride, status, religion, and sin. He wants us where we are, not after we’ve taken a tool to ourselves to look like every other brick in the world. A living stone has its own unique beauty that the Creator created us with. To become a perfectly square brick robs us of our God-given beauty and robs God of the beauty he created to enjoy.
There are forces in this world who are intent on making us all into bricks. We have our Pharaohs and our Nimrods in today’s age. Whether these forces are in plain sight or lurking in the dark, they’re always hiding though. They are forces that sell us the great bricks of our day: money, sex, power, and consumerism. Egypt and Babylon are alive and well in our society today. But every time we accept and advance the Gospel, helping those who have been rejected by men to realize their unique beauty and God-given purpose, we take back the ground of these forces, becoming the spiritual house, the holy priesthood that Peter says we are being built up into (1 Peter 2:4-5).
As we chose to follow Jesus, we are saying yes into a life time of growing to become like him, the ultimate living stone – the stone that the builders rejected – that has now become the cornerstone (Psalm 118:22). He was rejected in the most intense way possible so that as we all come to know him God might complete the house he is building us into.
If God is calling you to do life with him or help others to do so, remember that God almost always chooses what man rejects. He wants you as you are, not as you should be. Let the Great Builder plug you into the unique place He has reserved for a living stone like you in his Kingdom.
Don’t be a brick. God loves a living stone.