Second Reading: 1 Peter 2:4-9

Living Stones

How do you "fit" into society? Into your family? Into the groups and the associations where you have membership?

Popular Translation

4 Come to Jesus. He is like a living stone which people rejected. But God chose him and gave him honor. 5 As his followers, you are like living stones. So, let God use you to build a spiritual home and turn you into a group of holy priests. This way, you can offer spiritual sacrifices with Jesus Christ that God will readily accept. 6 The Scripture says this about Jesus,

"Look! I placed a cut stone that I chose and found good as the cornerstone to my building. The person who puts his trust in it will not be ashamed."

7 You believe, so Jesus is precious to you. But those who do not believe will find Jesus like "The stone that the builders rejected became the cornerstone." 8 He will be "a stumbling stone and a rock that will give cause people scandal." Those people who refuse to hear God's word are destined to stumble and fall.

9 Because you believe in Jesus, you are "the children God chose, his royal priesthood, his holy nation, his own people. You will praise him" since he called you out of sin's darkness into his wonderful light!

Literal Translation

4 (You are those) coming to HIM, a living stone, having been rejected by men but by God (HE is) the honorable chosen, 5 and you, as living stones, are being constructed into a spiritual house, into a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through JESUS CHRIST. 6 Because it was written in Scripture:

Look! I set a stone Zion, a cornerstone, (the) honorable chosen,
and the (one) placing (his) trust in it will (certainly) not be shamed.
7 (It is) a value to you, the believing (ones), but to the unbelieving,
"The stone which the (ones) constructing rejected, this (one) became the head of the corner"

8 and

"(It is) the stumbling stone and the rock of scandal."

By disobeying the word which (they heard), they stumble and are set (in their destiny). 9 But you (are) "the chosen offspring, the kingly priesthood, a holy nation, a people for (his) possession, so that you might announce (his) praises," (he) having called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.

2:6 "it was written in Scripture" is literally "it was surrounded in Scripture." There seemed to be the notion that writing was like drawing circles.

"The (one)...will (certainly) not be shamed" There was a double negative in the clause to show emphasis; hence, the presence of "certainly."

2:6 This quote is from Isaiah 28:16 (NAB): "See, I am laying a stone in Zion, a stone that has been tested, A precious cornerstone as a sure foundation; he who puts his faith in it shall not be shaken."

2:7a This quote is from Psalm 118:22 (NAB): "The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone."

2:7b This quote is from Isaiah 8:14a (NAB): "Yet he shall be a snare, an obstacle and a stumbling stone to both the houses of Israel..."

2:9 This quote echoes Exodus 19:3-6

Fitting in. Recent magazine articles have revealed a new theory that "likability" is a greater measure for success in the business world than ambition. Social skills and teamwork trump raw talent. While we Americans might worship at the altar of "rugged individualism," we still place a high value on community.

The author of 1 Peter also invested in the value of community. In these verses, he described the Church as a building, in which God placed Christ as the cornerstone and built believers into a spiritual edifice. Christ was the stone that held up God's "Temple" (spiritual building) and caused scandal. And, as it was with Christ, so it was with his followers. While one might fit into the community of believers, he or she might not fit into other segments of society. In fact, being a follower of Jesus might cause others scandal. From the beginning of Christ's early ministry, outsiders have misunderstood believers, treated them with disdain, even committed violence against them. Christians fit into some parts of society, but not others.

As Christians, we are to fit in where we can, but for a reason. We do not cultivate friends and influence others just to be liked (although that is a pleasant thought). We do not try to persuade the court of public opinion for the sake of power (although many do in the name of God). We fit in so we can evangelize. God made us the "children he chose, his royal priesthood, his holy nation, his own people" so we can praise God and invite others in that praise.

We like to be liked. We like to fit in. This is good, but it is a means to an end. We fit in so we can become living stones, Christians who are part of the Kingdom and assist God in building up his reign.

How do you use your place in family, among friends, and in society to evangelize? Where has God placed you so you can influence others?