DAILY DEVOTION - MAY 14
Listen to excerpts from today's daily devotion on this video.
This Daily Devotion is from A Living Hope, by Sarah Viggiano Wright, published by Bible Study Media, and made available to us through Presbyterian Women.
“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.”
1 Peter 2:4–5
Do you remember a time when you felt left out or rejected? For most of us, that pain is all too easy to recall. The wounds of feeling like an outcast or a burden can be gutting. We hate feeling unwanted. This is because it goes against what we were created for—loving relationships and deep belonging. Belonging secures us. There is great joy when we are chosen and included, wanted and loved. Conversely, when we are rejected or passed over, it hurts and may even devastate us.
Peter, remembering the suffering of his readers, doesn’t take their feelings of rejection lightly. He doesn’t offer platitudes or quick-fixes to make things “all better.” Instead, he bids them “come” to their Savior.
Coming to Jesus, no matter what you are going through, offers a sweetness and salve this earth cannot. The Savior may offer you longed-for rest and peace, grant you courage and perseverance for your trial, or simply wrap his arms around you and assure you, “I know.”
Researcher Brené Brown says, “The two most powerful words when we’re in struggle [are] ‘Me too.’” Peter, not forgetting the struggle these believers are experiencing, points to Jesus and says, “He too.” He too knows pain. He too knows ostracization. He too was rejected by men. Jesus knows what you’re going through, not just because he is all-knowing, but because he also has experienced it.
As scattered, alienated, and alone as these Christians feel, Peter wants them to know five truths about their new lives in Jesus that will give them a communal identity and a living hope.
First, they are personally joined to Jesus.
Peter has talked about how these believers were “born again... through the living and abiding word of God” (2:23).
He now turns from their union with the living word to their connection to the living stone. “As you come to him, a living stone...you yourselves like living stones are being built up into a spiritual house...” This is another way they are being joined with Jesus. When we come to the Living Stone, we become like the Living Stone. As we are connected to him, we are “in him” and we participate with him. What is true about the Living Stone is also true about the living stones built upon him. If the Living Stone has been “rejected by men,” so too will be the living stones. Their rejection is connected to his rejection.
But second, Peter assures them, just as Jesus is precious and honored, so are they.
If you’ve ever wondered how God sees you, here is your answer: you’re precious. Read this phrase slowly, “But in the sight of God chosen and precious...” (emphasis added). The phrase “But in the sight of God” could easily be glossed over, but I want you to marinate in it. This is not how another flawed human being sees you—it’s how the perfectly holy, all powerful Creator of the universe sees you! In God’s eyes, you are chosen and precious. This is not a pitiful and weak “precious,” but a fervent statement of your honor and value to God. Precious is what you are.
Let me take a moment to reassure you, beloved, that God sees you. Perhaps you felt like an inconvenience in your childhood or you even feel unseen by your peers or certain family members now. Take heart! Your Heavenly Daddy sees you and says that you are precious to him. What a comfort these words must’ve been to the suffering believers reading Peter’s letter. And they are a comfort to us today.
Third, Peter reminds his hearers that they are pained but privileged.
Though we join Jesus in being rejected, being united to him is the greatest honor we will ever know. Any earthly rejection pales in comparison to the belonging and love we experience in Christ. Again, Peter does not offer these words flippantly—as a person who has known deep suffering, he attests that the pleasure of knowing God is worth the pain.
Fourth, in their new lives, these new believers are joined to one another.
In verse 5, the word “house” in “spiritual house” has a double meaning as both a physical home and a family/lineage. While each stone plays an integral part in the sturdiness of the house, one stone by itself does not make a house. God is building all the living stones together into one unified house, one family. Together we make something bigger than ourselves, more significant than ourselves, and much longer-lasting than ourselves. We are the spiritual house of the Lord, his temple and dwelling place. What an honor!
Fifth and finally, Peter encourages these believers to remember they are a priesthood with a purpose.
Priests are holy mediators, those whose role is to facilitate God’s meeting with people and to represent God to the world. They are to help gather new stones into the Church, adding room by room to the spiritual house God is building. Amazingly, Peter’s first readers (and we today) serve both as temple (spiritual house) and priests; we are to be both a place where people can find/meet God (temple) and the people who carry out God’s mission in the world (priests).
As a sanctified priesthood, we are also to offer sacrifices. This has always been a requirement of the worshipers of Yahweh. The physical sacrifices of the Old Testament were superseded and satisfied in the one perfect sacrifice of Jesus. Peter affirms that we now offer “spiritual sacrifices” as a response to that satisfaction. But what kind of spiritual sacrifices are we to offer?
This part gives us pause: those “acceptable to God” (2:5). We may feel we don’t have anything good enough to give God or we’re not “spiritual enough” to offer him anything. So what can we stones, rejected by men, offer our holy God? Any good thing! Any good thing can bring glory to God because we have a great High Priest who is our mediator and he makes our offerings acceptable to God. As believers, we have already been made acceptable to God. Because of Jesus, we can now offer up our transformed lives and stewarded resources to his kingdom work.
So, though we are rejected by men, we are precious to God. Though we are discarded, God is gathering us and building us up. We are not useless; we are purposed by God. We are not scattered, but collected; not forgotten, but chosen; and not worthless, but priceless! And, we have the privilege of being both temple and priests because our God makes “rejects” usable for purposes greater than themselves.