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First Epistle of Peter 2: 4-10 (NIV)
4 As you come to him, the living Stone – rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him – 5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For in Scripture it says:
“See, I lay a stone in Zion,
a chosen and precious cornerstone,
and the one who trusts in him
will never be put to shame.”
7 Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe,
“The stone the builders rejected
has become the capstone,”
“A stone that causes men to stumble
and a rock that makes them fall.”
They stumble because they disobey the message – which is also what they were destined for.
9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
How remarkable that Simon son of John, named “Peter” by Jesus to be the “rock” on whom Jesus would build his church, has here referred to Jesus as “the living Stone”! How remarkable, too, that he has written to Jesus’ followers scattered through Asia, describing them also as living stones! As living stones they, and we, are being built into a spiritual house to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. Of this spiritual house, Jesus Christ is the “chosen and precious cornerstone”.
What is it that qualifies them, and us, to be built into a spiritual house and to be a holy priesthood? It is not because of any “worth” we may have earned through our own endeavours! The Apostle Peter tells us that it is because they, and we, are “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God”. Exodus 19: 5-6 tells us that God commanded Moses to proclaim to the people of Israel, “Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation”. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Peter has extended that proclamation to include “God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout (Asia Minor), … chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ” (verses 1, 2) – and to include us. Through the grace of God, we now have the status of being “chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God”.
This status carries an obligation, a responsibility: so that, in all circumstances, we “may declare the praises of him who called (us) out of darkness into his wonderful light”.
Reference to“his wonderful light” reminds of Jesus’ proclamation: “While I am in the world, I am the light of the world” (John 9: 5). We therefore must now accept the challenge issued by Jesus to his disciples in his “sermon on the mount” to be “the light of the world” (Matthew 5: 14).
To continue Peter’s figures of speech we, like living stones who are being built into a spiritual house because we have been chosen by God, are to declare his praises. We do so as a royal priesthood, as a holy nation, as people belonging to God – for we have received his mercy.