When I was a kid, I was fascinated with stones. Every time we traveled, I brought home some kind of rock or stone in my pocket. One time we were camping at the Greenwood State Furnace in Central Pennsylvania, and my cousin and I discovered the jackpot of rocks. The old iron furnace that was on the property was surrounded by “slag,” which was a by-product of the iron smelting process that had taken place there. Slag was a glossy black and green glass-rock, and it could be tumbled and polished into beautiful objects. I probably had over a hundred pieces of slag stones.
In 1 Peter, we see Christ referred to as a “living stone.” This image contrasts the hard permanence of a stone with the qualities of living, breathing vibrancy. It is then expanded to include us, and paints a picture of a spiritual house being built with our sturdy, living stones:
1 Peter 2
4 Come to Jesus Christ. He is the living stone that people have rejected, but which God has chosen and highly honored. 5 And now you are living stones that are being used to build a spiritual house. You are also a group of holy priests, and with the help of Jesus Christ you will offer sacrifices that please God. 6 It is just as God says in the Scriptures,
“Look! I am placing in Zion
a choice and precious
No one who has faith
in that one
will be disappointed.”
This is a beautiful image for us when we feel as though our own houses are crumbling around us. Life-changes such as death, job loss, divorce, and pandemics leave us feeling vulnerable and insecure. Remembering the sure foundation that is Christ, our rock, helps us to know that we are standing on his solid cornerstone. We cannot be moved.
7 You are followers of the Lord, and that stone is precious to you. But it isn’t precious to those who refuse to follow him. They are the builders who tossed aside the stone that turned out to be the most important one of all. 8 They disobeyed the message and stumbled and fell over that stone, because they were doomed.
My parents understood my fascination with the slag rocks, and took a small and particularly beautiful one to a friend who had a rock tumbler. It came back shiny and polished, and the tumbling revealed the marbleized streaks that were hidden under the rock’s bubbly exterior. My Dad had it mounted on a necklace for me. It was oddly shaped, but I loved it.
I proudly wore this the next time we went camping with our camping club. A somewhat tactless dad took one look at it and said, “What an ugly rock!” I was devastated. His wife chastised him, and the poor fellow spent the rest of the weekend trying to apologize for his hastily spoken words. My parents encouraged me to realize that not everyone saw beauty the same way. But obviously the sting of that critical remark stayed with me.
Rejection of our ideals and theology can feel that way. When a family member or good friend ridicules our faith, we feel the sting. Jesus isn’t precious to those who refuse to follow him. When that happens, and it will, try to remember that you are God’s chosen one. You are special to God. You belong to a royal family. Not everyone sees beauty the same way.
9 But you are God’s chosen and special people. You are a group of royal priests and a holy nation. God has brought you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Now you must tell all the wonderful things that he has done. The Scriptures say,
10 “Once you were nobody.
Now you are God’s people.
At one time no one
had pity on you.
Now God has treated you
On Christ the solid rock we stand…all other ground is sinking sand. Now go and tell all the wonderful things that he has done.