We’re reading the first epistle of Peter over two weeks, with brief explanations and applications. The Bible text (NIV 2011) is in blue, so you can tell what bits are Scripture and what bits are my explanations.
2:1 Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Don’t behave like everyone else does. 2 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, 3 now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.
Just like babies cry until they get their bottle, whinge and scream until you get the Word of God into you. Don’t chase the inferior existence you’re told to chase by your workmates, by advertising, by the impossibly perfect life posts on social media—instead, relentlessly pursue God.
4 As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— Did you spot that subtle aside? Jesus was rejected, too, by the way. You might recall the whole crucifixion thing. His wider society rejected him. Yet he was chosen and precious to God. Guess what? So are you.
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. Been rejected by the temple establishment? By the synagogue? Don’t stress! You’re now part of a greater temple. On the outer at your workplace? Ridiculed at university? Sidelined at school? Forget that: you’ve already got the best career, as a priest of the living God!
6 For in Scripture it says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”
All societies try to shame minority groups back into conformity. Especially dangerous ones whose ideas threaten the status quo. But if we trust in Christ—the cornerstone of this new temple—we won’t be put to shame.
But the same can’t be said for those who reject Christ.
7 Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” 8 and, “A stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.” They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.
Although they might try to shame you, in the end they are the ones who will be put to shame.
9 But, in the words of God to Moses on Mount Sinai: you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
So what if your fellow Jews have disowned you? It’s in you that all God’s promises to Israel will be made good. It’s in you that all God’s purposes for his people will be realised.
In fact, so what if the Roman Empire, or the twenty-first century Western world has marginalised you? Even if you’re not ethnically Israel, through Christ you now have the opportunity to become part of God’s people; “children of the living God” just like the prophet Hosea said:
10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
You might not belong in the wider world anymore. But that’s OK. Because you belong to the people of God. You’re a living stone in a spiritual temple God’s building. You’re following in the footsteps of the stone that was rejected by society yet chosen and precious to God. In Christ, you belong.