By Jonathan Moseley
As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” 1 Peter 2:4-5
Jesus is the one we were made to enjoy and savor. Lest we think we’re unworthy of him, the beauty we see in the Gospels is that Jesus prefers the company of sinners. These are the ones he came for. This means he is available for us—those of us who are filled with malice and deceit and hypocrisy and envy and slander (2:1). Jesus wants us to know that he is accessible, because he wants to be approached. He wants us to come to him. Peter assumes his readers have this desire: as you come to him (v.4). This is what you do when you have tasted that the Lord is good (v.3). You keep coming back for more, like an infant who returns for more milk. Jesus is not a stranger you meet on an airplane and have a conversation with once. He is someone you return to day after day—learning from him, following him, loving him. This is the way we rid ourselves of the “enemies of love” that Peter mentions just a couple of sentences back. We obey the command to “put away” in 2:1 by “showing up” in 2:4. As we come to him [show up], we become like him. Coming to Jesus here is not about conversion, but about growth. I believe that’s the essence of what Peter is getting at in 2:4-5. We come to him, and thus, become like him.
So, our question is, “How do we become like Jesus as we come to him?
Peter gives at least four ways:
We Are Like Jesus—Living Stones.
Jesus is called a living stone: as you come to him [Jesus], a living stone… (v.4). We must get that. Jesus is not dead but alive and reigning. And Peter says that we, like Jesus, are living stones. (v.5). The like Jesus is important—we are not Jesus. He is the cornerstone; this stone was the most significant stone, because it was what the entire building was structured around. So, we are not most important—that’s Jesus. But it’s our connectedness to him that makes us like him. When our lives are joined to his, we become like him: living. What does Peter mean by this? He does not mean by “living” simply lungs that work or a heart that beats. His emphasis is on our spiritual aliveness. He says, “Like living stones [we] are being built up as a spiritual house,” and for us “to offer spiritual sacrifices” (v.5). Spiritual aliveness happens when God inhabits a person. Stones are dead and motionless and lifeless. Our hearts were like that. But the Holy Spirit has changed that. The Spirit of Christ is inside of us. We are not dead, but alive.
We Are Like Jesus—Rejected by Men
Jesus was not the “stone” the religious leaders wanted. When you love the dark, you hate the light. Jesus confronted the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and the Sadducees—their selfish plots and their love of power. Jesus saw through their veneer of piety. His words demanded that they change. So, instead of listening to Jesus, they shunned him, falsely accused him, arranged a biased court against him, and supported his flogging and crucifixion. Jesus knew rejection. And to the degree by which we try to follow Jesus, we can expect the same kind of rejection. The more we try to live in light of what he says, the more opposition we will attract.
Jesus did not shy away from the reality the disciples would face: “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own’ but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” John 15:18-20
As we come to him, we will be rejected by men.
We Are Like Jesus—Chosen and Precious
If “rejected by men” was the end of the Peter’s thought, there wouldn’t much hope for us. If our value and future and joy depended on man, rejection would be the last thing we would want. But Jesus did not entrust himself to men; he entrusted himself to God. Jesus knew what the Father thought of him: he was chosen and precious. He heard his Father say both at his baptism and his transfiguration, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17, Luke 9:35). Jesus knew too what God had planned for him. That’s what gave Jesus the strength to get through history’s darkest hours expressed in the agony of his crucifixion—both in the torture of man and infinitely more in the wrath of God. Though Jesus faced separation from God at the cross, the plan would ultimately end in Jesus joyfully sitting at God’s right hand: “For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2). Jesus did not waver that the Father’s supreme delight and unbridled and eternal joy was set on him. We cannot begin to fathom its depths. And like Jesus, we too are chosen and precious to God. We now have the Spirit of Christ living inside of us, and God delights in us because what he sees when he looks at us is his Son. Now, the same words spoken to Jesus at his baptism and transfiguration are spoken to us. We have a similar future as Jesus—the face of God is set on us and we will reign as co-heirs with Jesus. It does not end with “rejected by men.” It ends with chosen and precious and an inheritance guarded by God that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading (1 Peter 1:4-5).
Like Jesus—You Will Not Be Put to Shame
It’s an understanding of this status as “chosen and precious” that causes courage and resoluteness to rise in our hearts in the face of opposition. I think Peter is right to not hide the difficulty of following Jesus. Please understand this: you will be rejected by men. You don’t sign up to follow Jesus to get a better life as the world defines better. A life committed to embracing who Jesus is and what he teaches signs you up for a life of grief and heartache, possibly even physical pain or your very life. Most people never consider this—and I want to push you to. Because when you truly identify with Jesus, you will start to experience what he did. You will become like him—and he was “despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3). The doormat reads “Welcome to Sorrow” when you decide to walk into the world’s home with Jesus. That’s Peter’s point when he emphasizes Jesus’ rejection.
But he doesn’t stop there. He says that Jesus is the cornerstone—chosen and precious—and everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame. (v.5). The bitterness of momentary rejection is followed by an eternity of sweetness that comes from knowing we are like him in his chosenness and preciousness. We will not be put to shame.
Come to him—yes, you will experience the meanness of men. But as you come to him, you will taste his goodness. You will experience the fullness of joy found in his presence. You will hear him say, “You are mine.” And you will grow in your assurance that your future is secure. You will not be put to shame.
Jonathan Moseley is Director of Community and Operations at Renewal Church