Obviously, I’m a little late posting my thoughts on 1 Peter: Finding Encouragement in Troubling Times this week. But, I can say that I’m very excited about sharing this week. There was so much more in this lesson than I could even begin to share in a blog post, but here are a few thoughts.
Before I even began the study itself, I got caught up in the beauty of the first two verses from this week’s reading assignment.
And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 2:4-5
What a rich passage! Christ Himself was rejected by men, but is choice and precious in God’s sight. And so are we! We are the living stones who, because we have been associated with Christ, have been rejected by this world. But if we are in Christ, then we are intentionally chosen and exceedingly precious to Him. So, what do we do with that realization? That is exactly what lesson three explores.
Peter’s primary ministry was to those of Jewish background. And, when he spoke of the “spiritual house,” “holy priesthood,” and “spiritual sacrifices” in verse five, his primary audience would have thought back to the magnificence of the temple. One of our discussion points was to contrast the idea of the temple to our nature as “living stones” of a “spiritual house” as presented in these verses.
The temple was incredibly precious to the Jews. To this day, the Jews mourn the loss of their temple, a loss that is now nearly 2000 years old. The temple was the focal point of their worship. Although they have synagogues and places to learn and grow in their faith, they no longer have that place of connection to God. It was there they could go to interact with the priests who would approach God on their behalf. They would journey long distances to find their way to that one place on the map. That place of connection with God.
So, what about us? We are the connection! We are a living, breathing temple that is not limited geographically to one spot on the map. Instead, this temple stretches around the world, available to every tongue and nation. And there is more. The Biblical temple was only truly accessible to the priests, and the rest of the people had to rely on the priests for communion with God. Now, as the living, breathing temple of God, we are all priests. Every last one of us.
But there still remains the question: what do we do with this knowledge.
When we look back at the priests of the Old Testament, we see that they offered sacrifices for the sanctification of the people and the praise of God. In the same way, we are called to fulfill our priestly duties. But obviously we don’t have to kill animals and burn them on the altar. Instead, we offer ourselves. We give ourselves in full surrender to the work of Christ, offering praise to Him and serving one another. The danger is that, just as the priests fell into the habit of offering sacrifices physically, but without the heart behind it, so we can fall into the trap of going through the rituals without truly surrendering our hearts to Christ. It is so much easier to be a functional stone, holding our spot in the building, than it is to be an active part of a living organism. This spiritual house is not the type of building where we are laid and then do nothing more. It is a body. A living entity, built to accomplish God’s work on this earth. We must never simply go through the rituals of sacrifice. We must truly live lives of sacrifice.
I have known all of these truths for so long, but it’s so easy to walk through life and forget to live these truths. Being reminded that I am both precious and chosen as a part of this living building is a comfort and a challenge.
Next week we will discuss what Peter teaches us about living as that royal priesthood in the midst of a very secular world.
This study was sent to me by Kregel Publications in exchange for my participation in this graduated blog tour. I am not required to respond positively to the study.