Paul points out that the apostles and prophets are the foundation of our faith — the men who first disseminated the Christian faith. They understood that Jesus was Lord and I have often believed that the people who had the most difficulty of all in understanding that Jesus was God were his disciples. I mean, they had walked with him and talked with him and saw his humanity. They heard him laughing and breathing, watched him sleeping and maybe even snoring. They had seen him subjected to the natural limitations of human life just like everyone else. It must have been difficult for them to grasp the fact that here was God the Son, become flesh. But, yes, they finally understood. John says,
The Word became human and lived among us. We saw his glory. It was the glory that the Father shares with his only Son, a glory full of kindness and truth (John 1:14)
For three-and-a-half years they lived close to him; with him every moment and had the opportunity of seeing the most intimate details of his life. But finally realized that He was indeed, God, living in human flesh. He was God, yet manifested what humanity was to supposed be like. And it is on their faith that we rest. They taught us the truth about the Lord Jesus.
And, Paul says, Christ himself is the chief cornerstone. The purpose of a cornerstone is to be the foundation on which they base every measurement. Everything relates to it. The whole building ties together because of the cornerstone. So, Paul depicted Jesus as having that kind of relationship with us. All through this letter, he reminds of this fact. Everything is “in Christ,” “in him,” “by him,” “through him,” “through his blood,” “by his death.” Everything comes to us in Christ. If you don’t have Jesus, there is no way you can have intimate fellowship with God. Jesus declared, “No one goes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). So it is all built on Christ. He is the great cornerstone of our faith. And yet, now get this, each of us are members of Yahweh’s building, stones which are joined together.
Several ago, I had the opportunity to watch a stonemason work on a fireplace we had built in our home. It absolutely fascinated me. He began with a pile of stones and would go and look at these stones, pick one he thought was the right size and shape. Then he would take a chisel and hammer and knock off a piece here and smooth off an edge there, and then place it where he wanted it to go. If it didn’t quite fit, he would knock off another piece here and there until it was exactly right. Then he would cement it in place with mortar. Suddenly, the Holy Spirit spoke up:
“That is exactly how your Father is at work in your life. He is knocking off the rough edges, shaping you up, getting you ready. And if He still finds imperfections in your life, He will take His chisel and knock off some rough edges.”
I am serious; this is what God is doing in His Church. He is building a temple, a holy temple — a beautiful, magnificent building — the cornerstone (or foundation stone) being Jesus.
I don’t know anything that makes sense of history, other than this point of view. When you read history apart from this outlook, it leaves nothing but a meaningless jumble of political campaigns and battles and bloodshed among warring factions. However, if you look at history from this point of view, you will see that every one of those battles, every one of those campaigns, was part of the process of Yahweh work. He was preparing his people; chiseling a piece here, chipping a piece there, sanding them down, smoothing them out, getting them ready, building them in, fitting them in place in this great temple. And one day, the only thing left of history will be this temple God has built, the Church of Jesus Christ! Hallelujah! You can dance your happy dance, now.
Everything else — all our great buildings, all our vaunted progress — will be lost in the dust history. The only thing left standing will be the Church of Jesus Christ, the people in which Yahweh lives! This is what He is doing with us now — building us into this temple. It will make a tremendous difference if we begin to understand some of the possibilities and the privileges which are ours — simply because we are in Christ! When the Hebrews built the temple of Solomon, we read in First Kings 6:7:
The temple was built with stone blocks that were finished at the quarry. No hammer, chisel, or any other iron tool made a sound at the temple construction site (I Kings 6:7)
It was a quiet, secret process. Stones were shaped down in the quarry and then brought up and fit into place without the sound of a hammer. That is a beautiful picture of what God is doing with the church of Jesus Christ today. We are already temples of the living God. Individually, our bodies are the temple of God himself. And, if we understand that, and the relationship into which it brings us with God as King and Father, can you imagine the vast resources we have to draw on? Holy Moly, Batman! That is astounding!
Father, it is so frustrating to realize how dull and dim our vision is. So often we take these figures as if they were nothing more than words on paper. Our prayer is that you will help us see the living reality behind those images; to see what you are doing in our lives. How you are putting all of it together for your Glory. How you have chosen us, selected us to be intricately crafted and placed stones; members of this living building which is growing together.
Oh Father, help us understand how we are to belong to each other and draw closer to one another, that we can fulfill your great purpose in having a place to live, a dwelling place of God. Help us to remember all this during those times when are struggling, and to remember how you are our Father; our great King, and that we have privileges and rights and access and resources that many of us have never even claimed. Help us now to being living in the fullness of the provision you have made for us — not as servants but as sons and daughters of the Living God. We ask this, and thank you, in Jesus’ name, Amen!
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