It doesn’t make sense. Jesus says some difficult things in His teachings and the Church continues this “challenge” to our intellect. The Lord says things like “If you want to be free, be a slave.” And “If you want to live, you have to die.” And even “If you want to lead, you have to follow.” So, which is it Lord? And to that the Church confidently replies: BOTH!
The truth is wisdom rarely conforms to the pat answers we want to make our lives unthinkingly simple. It just doesn’t work that way. And you prove that by your everyday life. How many times has some simple, pat, answer really encompassed enough of reality to be helpful? And yet, there are some simple (but not easy) life lessons that always work. For example “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Live that way everyday and you’ll be like Christ! Yeah, I know, easier said than done.
I want you to read the whole Lesson today in 1 Peter 1:1-25; 2:1-10. But we are going to focus our attention on 1 Peter 2:1-5 so that we can glean some deep wisdom from a paradox!
So put away all malice and all guile and insincerity and envy and all slander. Like newborn babes, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up to salvation; for you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.
Come to him, to that living stone. rejected by men but in God’s sight chosen and precious; and like living stones be yourselves built.
I want you to notice through the whole reading that St. Peter doesn’t give many “suggestions.” He’s pretty clear that these are directives not really open to discussion. As a good “father” in God his direction is meant to help his spiritual children to purposefully live out their lives as Christians headed toward becoming like Christ. Clear direction means we are responsible for wisdom. Foggy leadership leads to a loss of purpose in the lives we are called to lead!
St. Peter makes this point clear by using a metaphor that really calls us to sobriety. He refers to Christ as “that living stone” and then he goes on to say we are also meant to be living stones built into a House for God! All my impressions of stones and rocks in my life have never been that they were alive! So what is Peter saying?
First, Christ is Living. Notice he doesn’t say “alive” but “living.” “Alive” may suggest mere survival or a static existence. But St. Peter insists that Christ is LIVING. This communicates to us that Jesus isn’t merely surviving, but active, moving, purposeful, leading, and engaged. This is much more than some savior who just survived the Cross, but a Lord Who has conquered every aspect of death in it’s horrible dead end. Jesus Christ is living and because He is living, we are meant to be living too. We aren’t meant to merely “survive” physical death. We are meant to be “living” as He is living; with purpose, intentionality, focus, and energetic. In other words we are meant to be like Christ in His Eternal Life. So the old (and wrong) notions of life being about accumulating temporary things or escaping to some “heaven” where we leisurely sit on a cloud strumming a harp are all wrong pictures of what God intends for us. We are meant to begin our eternal life right now; to be as alive, as living, as our Lord – active and focused!
Second, Christ is Stone. Wait a second, father! You just said Christ is Living. How can He be a stone as well. I’ve never seen a stone moving by itself and something that is living is moving! Yep. St. Peter says Jesus is “that living stone.” I told you we were dealing with paradox! Christ is not just living and moving and dynamic. He is also a solid foundation that brings stability, strength, and dependability. Christ is the “Living Stone” that is both dynamic AND stable. It’s easy to be active without a foundation. Water takes on the shape of whatever container holds it. But a rock insists you conform to its shape. So Christ embodies the qualities of both to provide a structure that is independent of your changeable “feelings” or the shifting sands of temporary circumstances. His solid foundation means you are meant to be part of this “building” He is building through the present ministry of the Holy Spirit in His Church, which is the building being built by Christ for the whole of humanity!
Today, are you a “living stone?” Do you provide for those around you a dynamic and sure foundation for living? Know that all the disciplines of the Faith are meant to build into your life a living foundation of both active and sold realities in a chaotic world desperately looking for someone to be Orthodox on Purpose!
P.S. Early Registration for the “Bringing Orthodoxy to America” Evangelism Conference is open NOW till Sept. 1st. Just go to www.come-sf.org and register today! We will launch, God willing, our 16 video outreach series “A Journey to Fullness” on the first day of the Conference. So Conference goers will be some of the first ones to get the videos!