What’s the Big Deal About Church?
Peter compares the church to living stones, people in Christ who are being built up as a spiritual house and a holy priesthood. That person sitting on either side of you and in front of you and behind you on Sunday morning is a precious stone to God, a living stone that is connected to you by the blood and the Spirit of Christ. What makes the family of faith work together and stay together? A song from my past was called “We are Family,” and it’s a catchy tune. But how is the family held together in the song? They sing, “No we don’t get depressed, ‘cause here’s our golden rule: Have faith in you and the things you do; You won’t go wrong, this is our family jewel.” With all due respect to Sister Sledge, if my faith is in me or you or the things we do, we are in some deep trouble. No, we are living stones because of the cornerstone, Jesus Christ. And we are being built together by him and through his grace, day by day. It is a lifelong building project and the exciting thing is that there are new living stones being added to God’s building every day. Every time someone hears Jesus say, “Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me,” and does that, there’s a new living stone added to God’s building. We are family.
Some of my readers may remember Sunday morning, August 1, 1999, when Antioch was worshiping at what was then Arts Alive and is now Alamance Fine Arts Academy in downtown Burlington. One of our sons who was famous for his untimely febrile seizures had one in the middle of the sermon that day. His fever spiked, his eyes rolled back in his head, and pandemonium ensued. Someone called 911 and suddenly the police were coming in the front door while the firemen were coming through the back. A paramedic examining our son said, “Who are his parents?” The answer came back, “They’re not here right now; they’re at the hospital.” He persisted. “Well, someone needs to call them. I need to speak to his mom or dad.” One woman said, “I don’t think that’s a good idea. She’s pushing right now.” The paramedic said, “Well, I need to speak to someone in the family.” John grinned and said, “We’re all family here!” And he was right. We are family, being built together as living stones who love each other more and more. If we are being built together, that begs the question…
Who is the builder? The cornerstone is! Jesus said, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Jesus is building his church. Can I ask you something? If Jesus was building a housing development in your county, how many of you would want a house there? If Jesus was building a shopping center in your city, how many of you would want to shop there? But Jesus said he is building one thing on the earth. Only one. His church. Two questions, then. Is there anything more important on the earth than the church? And, if not, why are so many living stones disconnected? Why are so many believers living solitary lives of faith and worship apart from a local expression of the body of Christ?
I get it. Stones can have really rough edges and do damage to the others around them. Stones can lose their grip in the wall and fall away, making the wall more vulnerable to falling itself. But the truth remains that Jesus is building his church out of living but imperfect stones, people like you and me. I wouldn’t want to be anyone else but a living stone in the building that stands on Jesus. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else but firmly connected to the other living stones in a healthy local church.
Want to join me?