It’s fascinating to watch a building go up on a construction site. Builders, architects, engineers, owners, suppliers, and workers participate in a highly coordinated process to make it happen. Sometimes, however, the process is interrupted, and the construction is slowed or stopped. The finished product is always a sight to behold.
Christ is that first and living stone in the spiritual temple of God. He is God’s firstborn, for he brings other living stones to build up this temple. Our work is to bring still more of these living stones into this temple. This is our priestly work.
You yourselves are being built like living stones into a spiritual temple. You are being made into a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 2.5 CEB.
We have been hired on
This construction is one we participate in, but it is the sovereign God who is overseeing and empowering the process. Note the passive verb: We “are being built … into a spiritual temple.” God is in charge here. He is paying the bill. He is supplying the energy for the project. We have been hired on.
Jesus taught us to say, “We are slaves undeserving of special praise; we have only done what was our duty” Luke 17.10 NET. Paul insisted that the saints think of him and his coworkers as mere “servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God” 1 Corinthians 4.1. We have been privileged to be included in this marvelous project, and for that we bow the knee to express deep feelings of gratitude.
We did not help draw up the plans. We did not determine the height, length, breadth, or width of this building. We do not pay the costs of construction. We follow orders.
Spiritual through and through
This is a spiritual project. Peter twice uses the word “spiritual” so that we don’t get lost in the old Jewish figure, but fix our attention firmly upon the spiritual nature of the New Covenant. God’s house or temple is spiritual. So our sacrifices are to be spiritual as well.
What does that mean in a material world? Does it mean that we do not deal at all with physical things? Not at all! But it does mean that all our material resources are put to spiritual uses. The Jerusalem church shared its resources with the needy among its number. Paul insisted that the Corinthians show by their financial offerings the necessary reciprocity of the church, giving to those who had given them the spiritual riches of Christ. All this, of course, for the salvation and edification of eternal souls, 1 Peter 2.9.
This is why we are living stones. The stones of Jerusalem temple were inert and dead matter. We do not deal in dead things. Our life is corporate, also. The spiritual nature of our project means we are at the same time workers and building material. From here and verse 9, it becomes clear that “to be a Christian is to live within the community of God’s people” (Thompson, 927). A single stone does not a building make.
We all are spiritual and living because we have been placed in this building in relation to Christ’s cornerstone position and deriving from him our life. So we are continually coming to him for life, sustenance, and growth, v. 4. It is our
“… constant approaching of the Lord of all who find strength and support from the ‘living stone.’ It is only through continually reaching forth to Christ—the standard and ideal of Christianity—that the means and method of constructing the Christian structure may be found” (Woods, 56-57).
Since God is the great Mind behind this building, all work and our sacrifices must meet his standards and pass his inspection. They must be “acceptable.” God must find pleasure in them, not us. What we may consider right and good and proper may not be so considered by the Lord. So how can we know what he will approve?
May the answer to that question be quickly forthcoming from all his faithful saints! The New Testament is our blueprint! The Bible is our guiding light and fixed lodestar.
Let not a thought be given to offering something to God without first making consultation of his divine plans. Let every prayer search out its model and expression in Scripture. Let every praise echo the revelation of the Savior’s person and work. Let every song find its poetic license in the truth of God’s Good News. Let every message be firmly based upon and drawn from the very text of the Bible. Let the bread and fruit of the vine upon the Lord’s table proclaim the original intent of Jesus Christ to remind us of the center of our faith.
As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a female slave look to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, till he shows us his mercy. Psalm 123.2.
It will be a wondrous thing to behold the finished project. People from all nations will praise the wisdom and power of God. The united church of Jesus Christ will adore his name in perfect praise. As the finished spiritual temple is swept into the eternal Kingdom, we will do forever what we have done on this earth, “continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, acknowledging his name” Hebrews 12.15.
Randal has been continually reaching forward to Christ for some 50 years. He explores some of that reaching in his book, Choose!
REFERENCES: Claude Holmes Thompson, “The First Letter of Peter,” in Interpreter’s One-Volume Commentary, 924-30. Abingdon, 1971. Guy N. Woods, Commentary on the NT Epistles of Peter, John, and Jude. Gospel Advocate, 1976.