March 5, 2018
17 He brought this Good News of peace to you Gentiles who were far away from him, and peace to the Jews who were near. 18 Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us.
19 So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family. 20 Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. 21 We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord.22 Through him you Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by his Spirit.
I grew up in an average town, in an average neighborhood, in an average house, in a way above average family. When I was around ten my parents decided to add on a family room. From the start, I knew this was going to be an above average room. From the cypress wood walls to the brick tiled floor to the vintage newspaper wallpaper in the bathroom, my mom designed every square inch of the place with exquisite care. The marquee feature of the room would be the fireplace.
I remember one Saturday in the midst of the construction my parents took us on a field trip of sorts. We were going to find the stones from which the fireplace would be built. They commandeered a “Bob-Truck” from the farm along with a few farm hands and we drove to the northern part of the state to some land that belonged to one of our cousins. We drove from one site to the next, hunting stones as though they were treasure, picking and choosing and loading them into the truck.
Weeks later, when the time had finally come to build the fireplace, the stonemason arrived. Every day after school I rushed home to watch him work. We saw a pile of rocks. He saw the heart of the home. He knew which stone came first and which edges needed to be chiseled off and how they would stand and stack and ultimately be mortared together together with a perfection of union—as though they had been waiting in those fields from the beginning of time to find their way to our fireplace. And what a fireplace they formed.
Today’s text reminds me of that fireplace.
20 Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself.
I have spent much of my life thinking of God as working primarily through individual people. “Use me,” I have prayed so many times. Like a stone in a field, I have wanted to be a rock who cried out; a rock star for Jesus if you will. The more I read the Bible the more I understand the Scripture’s “you” is not speaking first to me but to us. My identity and purpose are only found in community with those whose lives are intertwinedly bound together in relationship to Jesus Christ.
21 We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord.
He dwells in our relationships. I like the way Peter put it:
4 As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— 5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 2:4-5 NIV.
Are you seeing it? We, “like living stones,” are the fireplace—our relationships—rather than our individuated selves. I am not suggesting we do not have a “personal” relationship with Jesus; only that this relationship is not individualistic in nature.
The church must be in its smallest dimension what it aspires to become in its largest expression. In fact, there is no way to do this in any large way other than in the multiplication of the small ways. In other words, the mission of the Gospel will be accomplished in and through our relationships or not at all.
You can have a fire without a fireplace; just not in the house. Maybe that’s why the Church feels so impotent these days. Maybe that’s why so many of our local churches feel cold and lifeless.
It’s why we are so committed to the work of banded discipleship. We see it as building fire places—hundreds, then thousands, then tens of thousands of fireplaces. This is the long game of sowing for a great awakening.
Abba Father, we thank you for your son, Jesus, who started with twelve and brought them together as living stones into a spiritual house—the original fireplace for the fire of your Spirit. Renew this work in our time, doing in many small ways what you want to do in multiplied large ways. I pray you would bring me into this work in a new way. We pray in Jesus name, amen.
- How does the fireplace metaphor resonate or not with you?
- What will it take for the “living stones built together into a spiritual house” idea to take root?
- Are you being built together into a “fireplace” or “spiritual house” with a few other people? What holds you back?
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J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. firstname.lastname@example.org.