3 You have tasted that the Lord is good. 4 Now you are coming to him as to a living stone. Even though this stone was rejected by humans, from God’s perspective it is chosen, valuable. 5 You yourselves are being built like living stones into a spiritual temple. You are being made into a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 Thus it is written in scripture, Look! I am laying a cornerstone in Zion, chosen, valuable. The person who believes in him will never be shamed. [Isaiah 28:16] 7 So God honors you who believe. For those who refuse to believe, though, the stone the builders tossed aside has become the capstone. [Psalm 118:22] 8 This is a stone that makes people stumble and a rock that makes them fall. Because they refuse to believe in the word, they stumble. [Isaiah 8:14] Indeed, this is the end to which they were appointed. 9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people who are God’s own possession. [Exodus 19:6] You have become this people so that you may speak of the wonderful acts of the one who called you out of darkness into his amazing light.
Peter saturated his description of what it meant to belong to God’s people, the church, with quotations and allusions to the Hebrew Scriptures. Peter, like Paul, saw the Jesus movement as an extension and fulfilment of the call God first gave to Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3. Peter’s reflection on belonging to Christ expressed what scholar N. T. Wright wrote about the story in John 1: “What Andrew and Simon Peter thought they were doing was looking for the Messiah. What they didn’t realize was that the Messiah was looking for them.”*
Lord Jesus, you came looking for me, maybe before I even knew I needed you. Thank you! Help me to live a life built on you, not one that stumbles over your call. Amen.
* N. T. Wright, John for Everyone, Part 1: Chapters 1–10. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2004, p. 14.
** Paul Cedar, The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Volume 34: James / 1 & 2 Peter / Jude. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1984, p. 137.
In preparation for the eclipse last Monday, our small group spent last Sunday evening discussing several lunar/cosmic events recorded in the Bible. To add to the festivities, my wife, Doris, baked some homemade Moon Pies to serve with our Milky Way candy bars. (Sigh. It’s going to be one of those days – Editor.) I deliberately didn’t mention the packs of Orbit & Eclipse gum we had on hand, because I thought that would be overdoing it – DL. (Good grief. I had some aspirin in my desk drawer yesterday, where are they? – Editor.)
Of course, the eclipse was not without some controversy – like the Mom who asked why in heaven’s name would they schedule the eclipse on a Monday in August, just when school was starting up? There were also reports that some folks became quite concerned during the eclipse, wondering when the sunlight would return - then it dawned on them.
We opened with the Creation story & marveled at the succinct description of the creation of the sun & moon - no dramatic drawn-out legend, just a day in the life of God.
We then chatted about Moses & the 9th plague where darkness covered Egypt as recorded in Exodus 10:21-29. It was so dark people couldn’t see each other or move about; yet, the Israelite slaves were still in the light. We discussed the possible explanations for this darkness (sandstorm, fog, Godly miracle).
We also talked about Joshua & the “Day the Sun Stood Still” as noted in Joshua 10:5-14. We debated whether this was a literal event or perhaps a legend shared to emphasize that the God of Israel had complete & total dominion over the trifling/trivial sun & moon gods that the Amorites worshipped. Interestingly, the text marvels not at the miraculous event but rather that God had answered Joshua’s prayers.
Finally, we discussed the darkening of the skies from noon to 3:00 p.m. when our Lord was crucified on that grim Friday. One wonders how the crowd in Jerusalem would act as the skies darkened – not for 3 minutes but for 3 hours? Would we link this supernatural cosmic event with the death of the man who claimed to be the Son of God or would we be quick to try to rationalize it away?
When unnatural darkness encompasses our world, it is definitely unsettling for us all. Today, I would submit our culture is wrestling with darkness in a spiritual sense. It seems like there is a new outrage each day; and if you aren’t as outraged as I am, well, then, that is outrageous. If our rage/fury meter could range from 1 to 10, then it seems like we are in a bitter race to see who can get to 11 first, only to realize we’ve become stuck on 11 all the time.
I would contend this is precisely when we people of God need to step up & be the calming voice injecting our Christ-like light into our tension-filled social circles. Maybe we could be extra attentive to the voices around us, slowing down to offer 100% of our attention & to lend an encouraging ear. Perhaps we could speak as the light of Christ, making sure we avoid words like “never” & “always” and avoid typing (or speaking) with the [CAPS LOCK] key on. Or, even better, we could seek out every opportunity to offer our hand to someone badly in need of a simple act of reassuring Christ-like love.
A musical-esque summary might look like this: Some of our friends/family may be experiencing a total eclipse of the heart this day. Like Christ, you could demonstrate that you are their sunshine & remind them that even in the darkest of times here comes the sun. You could be just the sunshine on their shoulder that they need to help them to keep walking on sunshine. (With apologies to Elton John, we’ll now mercifully let the sun go down on this Insight – Editor.)
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