A Building of Living Stones
by Paula Miles, Guest Writer
In Him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in Him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit.
As you come to Him, the living Stone – rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to Him – 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.
Ephesians 2:21-22; I Peter 2:4-5
In both of these passages, we read that we as “living stones” are being built – it’s a present, continuous process. In a culture of instant gratification, we envision the finished product, a beautiful temple. Yet the Scripture reminds us we are part of a process that is larger than ourselves. A process that is not always comfortable or easy. We picture stone masonry with stones that are alive. As I researched stone masonry, I discovered the material used is often irregular in shape and size and trimmed in the field before placing in the wall, the pieces fit together like a puzzle, and the mason selects and positions the stones so that the joints are as small as possible. The more the stones interlock, overlap, and fit together, the stronger the wall. Do you get the picture? Are you willing to be interlocked and overlapped and fit together tightly with the other living stones God has placed around you? In his commentary on Ephesians, Sinclair Ferguson compares the living stones to the stones of the Jerusalem temple “carved by skilled stonemasons, so that they sustained one another in place and took the weight of the next level of the building.” I personally have experienced the sustaining presence of other living stones packed around me in an ever-changing world. I experience it on a daily basis but also when my circumstances seem much more than I can bear. Ferguson goes on to say, “What cries of pain, what refusal of design, what complaint about the shape, or size of neighboring stones might we hear. So it is in the church, Christ builds from living stones, sinners who are resistant material, difficult to shape, reluctant to fit with other living stones. Yet Christ continues to build.” This is a process we get to be a part of! We’re called to be a part of. It is here God does His work on us both collectively and individually to grow us to look more like Christ. He builds us together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit, a building that rises to display His glory. Paul Tripp says in his book, New Morning Mercies, “We were not wired by creation or re-creation to live on our own. Independent, self-focused living never goes anywhere good. We must all come to understand and accept the truth that our walks with God are community projects. We were not designed to live the Christian life on our own. The reason God calls us to this high quality of relationships is because relationships are an irreplaceable tool in His redemptive hand.” This radical embracing of community stands in stark contrast to the world’s philosophies of individualism and isolationism. God’s plan has always been about a people. It is in this building of living stones God by His Spirit uses His Word to grow us up into Him.
By the blood of Christ, God has not only brought you near to Himself but has united you with other living stones. We are being built into a holy temple, a dwelling which God lives by His Spirit. Peter says this spiritual house is to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices to God through Jesus Christ. Are you embracing or resisting this process? Look for opportunities to regularly be with the other living stones in your life. Openly and prayerfully combat the culture’s lies of autonomy, independence and self-sufficiency. How have you let the philosophies of individualism and isolationism creep into your own life? Be a leader in interdependence and vulnerability with your brothers and sisters in Christ as you minister to and come alongside them. God is doing a mighty work in and through His people. Rejoice that you get to be a part of it.
Paula Miles is wife to Kevin, a ruling elder at Clemson Presbyterian, and mother of Wimberly Johnson (married to Charlie), Janie, Clary, and Judy. She grew up in Anderson, SC and graduated from Clemson University. Paula has experienced the joy of being both a full time homemaker and a public school teacher. Studying and teaching God’s Word is her passion, as well as coming alongside women to encourage them to understand their unique design and fulfill their individual callings. Paula is on staff at Clemson Presbyterian as women’s ministry coordinator since 2014, is a conference speaker, and serves on the national women’s ministry team for the PCA as a women’s ministry trainer. She enjoys regular exercise, watching sporting events, and investing in the lives of her family.
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