The Big Church

The Essential Jesus Day 5

Who Is Jesus: The Big Church

PRAY: Father in heaven, thanks for being with me throughout this week; for watching over me and guiding me. Thank you for all the blessings you bestow on me. Amen

READ: 1 Peter 2:4-10

REFLECT: I admit it. I have a pet peeve. Okay, more than one—but only one of them matters at the moment. What is my pet peeve? It bothers me when people say they are “going to church.” I don’t want people to go to church! Pretty bizarre for a pastor, huh? Why would I react that way? Today’s reading will give you a clue….

To begin, Peter tells us that Jesus is the living stone (1 Pe 2:4). He is the foundation upon which the church is built; the corner stone (1 Pe 2:6). The cornerstone is the first stone set in the construction of a stone or masonry building. All other stones must line up with the cornerstone. It determines the layout and position of the entire structure. In the same way, everything we are and everything we do must be in alignment with Christ and depend upon him. Without him, the church is nothing but a club existing for its own sake. With him, we are a spiritual house and a holy priesthood (1 Pe 2:5).

Peter then says that you (plural, as in “you all” without the southern drawl) are living stones. What does it mean to be living stones?

We live in community (1 Pe 2:5). You are not alone but are part of something bigger than yourself. Together with other believers you are a spiritual house, a royal priesthood, a chosen people, a people belonging to God (1 Pe 2:9). To be a Christian is not to live in isolation but to be part of a community of saints. What is a saint? A forgiven sinner. God forms a group of forgiven sinners (yes, imperfect people) into a community of faith called the church. That’s why gathering for worship and serving together is so vital to our faith.

We are people of faith (1 Pe 2:6). We trust in Jesus and his promises. When we trust in him, we have nothing to fear and will never be put to shame. That doesn’t mean that we don’t struggle with doubt or ask questions. It means that instead of looking at ourselves and talking about what we believe, we focus on Jesus and what he has done for us. The church is a gathering of people who are, in Luther’s words, “simultaneously saints and sinners, believing unbelievers and unbelieving believers.”

We obey Jesus (1 Pe 2:8). Jesus’ becomes a stumbling block for some people and makes them fall. Why? Because they reject him and disobey him. Instead, Jesus says, “deny yourself, pick up your cross and follow me” (Luke 9:23-26).

We are holy (1 Pe 2:5,9).  A holy priesthood and a holy nation.  Not because we are perfect and sinless.  We are holy because Christ’s blood washes us and cleanses us from all sin.  We are holy because God sets us apart, calls us out to serve him and then send us to live among sinners so we can declare the forgiveness of sins..

We witness (1 Pe 2:9). The church is God’s creation—not man’s. It’s not an institution or a denomination or an association. It’s not a club that exists for its own benefit. Instead, God forms the church as his people (1 Pe 2:10) and then sends the church out into the world to accomplish his mission.  Just as the Father  sends the Son, and  the Father and Son send the Spirit, so the Father, Son and Holy Spirit send you out into the world (John 20:19-23).  You are sent into your homes, neighborhoods, workplaces, farms, schools, and everyday lives to be Christ for the sake of the world.  The Spirit gives you a diversity of gifts to accomplish his mission.  Witnessing in both word and deed is your work as a disciple who follows Jesus (Acts 1:8).

Do you understand my pet peeve yet? The church is not a building! The church is a holy priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God. It is the body of Christ sent into the world to be his hands and feet, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light (1 Pe 2:9). You don’t go to church. You are the church!

APPLY: What picture comes to mind when you say the word church? What does it mean for you to be the church? Are you living as part of a faith community? Are you living in a trusting relationship with Christ? Are you living as a witness to those around you? How do you need to change your life and your priorities? What is God calling you to do?

PRAY: Jesus you are the living stone. Help me to align my life with you and to be a living stone. Thank you for making me a part of your church. Help me to be the church in your name for the sake of the world. Amen.

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