vibrant growth

Not long after we closed our summer Bible study ZOOM call yesterday, our home became a buzz of activity!  Our daughter had a small window of time to say hello/goodbye to a handful of friends she has held dear since middle school (all heading in different directions since graduation) … and our son tackled final laundry and packing for two weeks away from home to serve on staff at a Christian camp.  After a dizzying 24 hours, the house is finally quiet again and I am enjoying the chance to think back over the uplifting truths in 1 Peter 2!  For those who are following along as we study, here is a little recap of our chat . . .

YESTERDAY’S DISCUSSION – 1 Peter 2:1-10

Our conversation centered around a peculiar concept: “living stones.”  We don’t ordinarily think of a chunk of rock as something that is alive, growing, vibrant, hungering for nourishment, or glowing from the inside out.  But those were exactly some of the characteristics we considered from this passage.

At the heart of these verses is *the* Living Stone – CHRIST, our Chief Cornerstone!  With the help of old and new testament cross-references, we broadened our appreciation for the LORD JESUS and His position as the core strength and support of His body, the Church. 

First, He is ALIVE!  Any truth we hold is founded in the power and glory of our Savior’s resurrection.  He was also rejected, and sadly continues to be disregarded by many in our world today (stumbling over the simple truth of the gospel when it interrupts their own agendas, calling them to respond to GOD’s love and surrender to His plan and way of redemption).  BUT, He is chosen by GOD, sent to be our Redeemer, and is now seated at the Father’s right hand to intercede on our behalf. 

I love the words of Isaiah 28:16: “Look! I am placing a foundation stone in Jerusalem.  It is firm, a tested and precious cornerstone that is safe to build on.”

Peter goes on to say in 1 Peter 2:5, “now GOD is building you, as living stones, into His spiritual temple.”  He urges us to “come to CHRIST!”  To serve as one of His priests, offering sacrifices that are pleasing to GOD.  A few of the sacrifices we mentioned include a repentant heart, bodies and lives willingly offered to the LORD, hearts open to be transformed to desire what pleases Him, genuine love for others, and the praise of our lips. 

Peter also encourages us hunger for the truth of GOD’s Word the way babies crave pure milk, to realize how good it is, how it is the only nourishment by which we can grow.  As living stones, we should not just exist, but thrive.  In order to thrive, we need pure “nutrients” in steady supply.  In the same way that we can’t live today on yesterday’s meals, we need the sustaining power of GOD’s Word all day every day too!

We are not just individual “living stones,” but part of a bigger structure.  With CHRIST as our Cornerstone, we are being built into GOD’s dwelling place on earth.  Many and varied stones joined together in harmony and unity, each with its own strength and beauty, but all shining the light of CHRIST.  In conversation, we pictured the building blocks of an actual structure. Each contributing strength and integrity to that structure. Each adding its own architectural detail. And each with its own light on, indwelt as individual temples of the Holy Spirit, displaying life and a warm welcome for others to enter.  There is always room for more! 

Our individual growth takes on new meaning and purpose – it is not just for our own benefit, but for the good of the whole.  As each of us grows stronger, the body of Christ strengthens as well.  Sadly, the converse is also true.  If one of us struggles or falters, the whole Church bears the strain.  In love for believers, Peter specifically addresses danger zones that can threaten spiritual health and growth – individually and collectively.  He draws attention to the painful and destructive nature of sinful tendencies like malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander.  These pitfalls likely result in growing distrust, pain, isolation, blame, misunderstanding, self-protection, and distraction from GOD and His purposes. 

How can we guard against these harmful practices? 

At the top of our list was PRAYER.  “It’s hard to dig your heels in when you’re on your knees.” …  “It’s hard to hold ill feelings toward someone for whom you are praying.”  Second to prayer for GOD’s wisdom, grace, and love for others, is a commitment to only, ever, always speak the truth.  Anything else gets complicated.  Finally, we agreed that the best gift we can ever give someone else is to keep our hearts pure and right before the LORD.  If we stay in tune with Him, what we speak or how we act will more likely flow from a heart that is aligned with His best.

Growth is a beautiful, inspiring thing!  It fosters strength, joy, humility, unity, and harmony. 1 Peter 2:2 says that we can grow into the fullness of our salvation – a full experience of the gift we have been given in CHRIST.  Ephesian 3:19 says it this way: “May you know the love that surpasses knowledge, filled with all the fullness of life and power that comes from GOD.”  We closed our discussion with a prayer that we may be stones that are immovable, materials that are structurally sound for building.  But that we may also be vibrant – growing AND glowing – displaying the beauty and glory of our Savior who is not just a firm foundation but who is also very much ALIVE!

For you are a chosen people. You are a kingdom of priests, GOD’s holy nation, His very own possession. This is so you can show others the goodness of GOD, for He called you out of darkness into His wonderful light. 1 Peter 2:9

#summerBiblestudy #1and2Peter #spiritualgrowth #thrive #healthyhabits #CHRISTtheCornerstone #builtuptogether #GODshouse #theChurch #shineHislight #lovelikeHedoes #prayer #speaktruth #CommunityBiblestudy #engagingGODsWord

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