Life Together

…1 Peter 2:1-6.  1 So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. 2 Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation-3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. 4 As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”

Isn’t it an oxymoron?  How can a stone be living?  In itself a stone is without life. It even is the mark of death…a slab of rock to record your epitaph.  And without the Lord Jesus, it is the very thing we are.  Without God, we’re lifeless.  We cannot do anything that is good and we have no fear, no trust, no love for God or his Word.  We despise the Lord Jesus and everything that he speaks.  And so it is that beating within our chest is a heart of stone – a cold rock… to defy, to lie, to deceive, to slander, to hurt and to hinder.

It’s a heart that seeks out an independent road, a path of our own, our own way to salvation.  It’s a heart that ignores the needs of others and exults self.  When the man and the woman ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and their eyes were opened… the first thing they did was cover themselves and hide from God.  In their shame and vice they drew themselves away from God and away from each other. We no longer are born with true love of God—instead we have a true desire to sin and to run from God.  We despise Him and end up alone in the midst of the valley of death with the weeds and thistles of life growing up around us.

As a pastor I’ve heard it said that I should change our Lutheran Worship, change our church body’s stance on closed communion, and that I shouldn’t talk about Jesus and his blood so much… and the reason?  Each individual has a personal relationship with God that is hindered by this teaching and preaching.  This message doesn’t allow for individual stones to be polished and laid in settings of gold or sliver.  It doesn’t let the person have their way with Jesus and his message.  The church should let each person have that individual “God” experience and the pastors have to just learn how to butt out.  That, of course, would make worship more meaningful and moving…

The problem is our Lord Jesus doesn’t fit that mold.  He isn’t a stone to polished and cut the right way so that He glistens and sparkles in the light.  Our Lord Jesus is a cornerstone.  His work is never to stand alone, but to draw all men to Himself.  He makes us like Himself, little Christs, little lights for the world.  Not stones that refract the light, but stones that produce light… not stones that stand alone, but stones that find their strength when they are built up in Him, the chosen and precious cornerstone of Zion.

King David called this world the Valley of the Shadow of Death.  Satan would have it a darkness with a chilling breeze.  He would have our sin be our crutch and our hearts beat to a tune that’s different from God. But there came a man, sent from God, a man that is God, chosen and precious in all of heaven.  True man, born of a peasant girl named Mary and also true God begotten of the Father from all eternity.  This one has come to bring light to the valley and the warmth of life to you.

All this He does through His Word.  That your heart of stone would be ripped from you and a living, beating, heart of flesh take its place and your sins removed from your white knuckled clutches, He drowns you in the waters of Baptism.  And baptized you become a living stone.  A brick, to be placed and used in the building of His spiritual house.  It’s as a living stone that you have a life together with the many members of the church and with Jesus Christ Himself.

He means for it to be a life together.  The Greek word koinwni÷a is often translated as fellowship or communion.  Our life as Christians is made whole as Jesus makes us members of this fellowship — but not just that!  That He continues to sustain us and carry us through the Valley of the Shadow of Death with that fellowship.  When Adam and Eve hid themselves—God went and found them.  He didn’t need to…but He did.  He confronted their sin, but covered their shame with garments made of skin.  In God’s proclamation of the Gospel to Adam — He gave absolution.

In the same way He finds us, sends His Holy Spirit to call us with His Gospel and gathers us unto Himself.  He creates in us a clean heart and restores the joy of His Salvation to us in the partaking of the body and blood of the Cornerstone Himself.  In the eating and drinking of Jesus’ body and blood we are given a right spirit again.  It’s in this beating heart of God that we are forgiven, given new life, and are emboldened in a life together of being little Christs, full of mercy with a mouth opened by God to Witness the praises and the promises of Jesus.

Check out Pastor Scott Murray’s radio program, Dying to Live on Pirate Christian Radio.  He and I will discuss Life Together in March.