In Jerusalem under the Wailing Wall is one of the largest building blocks in the world. It is called the Western Stone and it is 13.5 meters long and 3.3 meters high. No one knows how deep it is because that is hidden within the wall, but it estimated to weigh between 250 and 300 tonnes. Obviously, this stone was quarried, shaped and put in place by human hands, but how they did this in the ancient world with the equipment they had available to them at that time is beyond me. When I am face-to-face with a stone like this, it is not a question of whether the stone is going to be moved by me. It is a question of whether I am going to be moved by the stone. I can either align myself to with it, or I can walk away.
Much more common are smaller stones like we would sometimes find in a field on the prairies. When I was farming, we considered such stones to be a nuisance because they would damage our equipment at harvest time, so we would do what we could to get rid of them. We would pick them out of our fields and throw them away in big piles at the edge of the field or in a slough or a ravine.
If we were to think of God and ourselves, which stone do you think would best represent God and which would be represent you? It may seem obvious that God would be the big stone and we are not, but if we are being completely honest, I think that all of us would have to admit that there are times we act as if we are the big stone and God is some little stone that we can simply push off to the side and ignore. And why does this matter? Because the way that we think of God and how we relate to him with our life will make the difference between us living an empty life that won’t amount to anything at the end of time and us living a life that is full of God’s goodness and makes a difference now that will last forever. So, the question that I am asking you to think about today is: How does your life fit together with God?
To guide us as we consider this question, let’s look at 1 Peter chapter 1. These verses are part of a letter written by Peter to encourage Christians in Asia Minor. They were being persecuted for their faith after Nero blamed Christians for the Great Fire of Rome in 64 AD. With the Covid pandemic still going on around us, we know something about tough times, so let’s lean in and listen to Peter’s words of encouragement.
The first thing that Peter does to encourage his suffering sisters and brothers in Christ, and us, is to remind us of what God has already done to align our life to his. Peter tells us that, through Jesus, God has rescued us from living an empty life. In 1 Peter 1, starting with verse 18, we read:
For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And it was not paid with mere gold or silver, which lose their value. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. God chose him as your ransom long before the world began, but now in these last days he has been revealed for your sake. (1 Peter 1:18-20)
Whenever a word is repeated in a section of Scripture, that tells us that it is an important word. The word “ransom” gets repeated in this passage, and through it, God is telling us that humanity has been kidnapped and stolen away from the life that we were meant to have: a life filled with abundance because it is life with God. God’s original plan for all humanity derailed when our first parents were lured away from life with God in paradise and kidnapped by the deceptive promise of living a self-formed life, a life that leads to heartache, sorrow, suffering and death. Ever since that moment, all of creation has been fractured and humanity has been destined for a life that leads to nothingness.
But God the Father loved us so much that he gave his one and only Son, Jesus Christ, to pay the ransom to set us free. By living a perfect human life for us, Jesus created an infinite amount of human goodness that fully compensates for all our faults and failures. By going to the cross and suffering a sinner’s death for us, Jesus paid the full ransom to set us free from our guilt and shame and grant us complete forgiveness.
The news gets better for Jesus has done more than ransomed us from an empty life. He has also brought us into a new life that is full. Life with Jesus is full because it is full of life and love. Not only do we have life with Jesus, but that life with him will last forever and it begins right now. Not only do we have love from Jesus, but he also brings us into his Body where we have a network of loving relationships with our fellow followers of Jesus. In verses 21 to 23 we read,
Through Christ you have come to trust in God. And you have placed your faith and hope in God because he raised Christ from the dead and gave him great glory. You were cleansed from your sins when you obeyed the truth, so now you must show sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters. Love each other deeply with all your heart. For you have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God. (1 Peter 1:21-23)
Even though, we know these things in our head, what tends to happen is that we forget what Jesus has done for us in our heart. We forget about our new life with Jesus, and we go back to living our old life without him, where we try to manage our life on our own and then we suffer all the anxiety, worry and fear that comes with living a self-formed life.
But imagine what it would be like to go through life being strong and courageous, despite the many challenges we face, because we are confident that the Living Cornerstone is with us and our life rests completely upon Him. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? And that is exactly the kind of life that Jesus is offering to you today. It begins by remembering what God has done for you.