Friday, January 12, 2018

Honored and privileged, conclusion


When we began this study, I was not truly appreciating the honors and privileges that we as believers enjoy! What a difference a week makes!
We will conclude our study today -- still more here in this passage, from the Spirit, so hang on tight!
I'd like to remind all of us of our focus passage.... this time I will post the ESV translation, just to give us another view of the words. (Many times it is helpful to check other translations when studying a passage.)
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.”So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe,“The stone that the builders rejected    has become the cornerstone,”and“A stone of stumbling,    and a rock of offense.” (I Peter 2:5-8a)
Another privilege we will have (in the future) is sharing in Christ's honor, and also that we will "never be put to shame." As pilgrims in this world, we haven't reached home yet. There will be times when we are mocked and even persecuted for our faith. This promise doesn't say that we won't experience trials, mocking, or persecution. Instead, it promises that we will never ultimately be put to shame. God will use everything that we go through for our ultimate good.  And when Christ comes, we will be honored before all; we will share in His glory.
If you are like me, you can identify with this story I found in an older sermon book:
An old missionary couple had been working in Africa for years and were returning to New York to retire. They had no pension; their health was broken; they felt defeated, discouraged, and afraid.
As the trip began, they discovered they were on the same ship as President Teddy Roosevelt, who was returning from one of his big-game hunting expeditions.
No one paid any attention to them. They watched the fanfare that accompanied the President’s entourage, with passengers trying to catch a glimpse of the great man. As the ship moved across the ocean, the old missionary said to his wife, “Something is wrong.”
“Why should we have given our lives in faithful service for God in Africa all these many years and have no one care a thing about us? Here this man comes back from a hunting trip and everybody makes much over him, but nobody gives two hoots about us.”
“Dear, you shouldn’t feel that way,” his wife said.
He replied “I can’t help it; it just doesn’t seem right.”
When the ship docked in New York, a band was waiting to greet the President. The mayor and other dignitaries were there. The papers were full of the President’s arrival. No one noticed the missionary couple. They slipped off the ship, disappeared in the crowd, and found a cheap flat on the East Side, hoping the next day to see what they could do to make a living in the city.
That night the man’s spirit broke. He said to his wife, “I can’t take this; God is not treating us fairly.” His wife replied, “Why don’t you go in the bedroom and tell that to the Lord?”
A short time later he came out from the bedroom, but now his face was completely different. His wife asked, “Dear, what happened?”
The Lord settled it with me. I told Him how bitter I was that the President should receive this tremendous homecoming, when no one met us as we returned home. And when I finished, it seemed as though the Lord put His hand on my shoulder and simply said; “You’re not home yet.”
(Author Unknown)
While we are here on earth, we may suffer for our faith, but we will never ultimately, in the end, suffer shame. We will be honored when we get home to heaven! Look at this from our old friend, Paul:
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. (Romans 8:18-19)
Eager anticipation.....like kiddos on tiptoe, peeking over the stairs to see if Santa has arrived....like your pup dancing around when you first get home....expectant! What a picture for us, and for the suffering Christians that Peter was writing to. They were (and we may be) mocked, hated without cause, and more, but when we put our faith in Christ we can look forward to sharing the glory of Christ in heaven.

I'd like to pause here to give y'all time to check out these Old Testament references, that Peter used. I think they will help us understand more fully what he was saying to the believers:
Isaiah 28:16
Psalm 118:22-23
Isaiah 8:14a
What about those who don't believe?
Peter is using the symbolism of an ancient building site, something that his readers would have understood. Often the rocks were brought in from the quarry with no indication of the needed size or shape. The builders would look at each rock, and if the dimensions were not just what they needed, it would be discarded. And this is what the world has done with Christ. But this Rock that was rejected, would become the cornerstone....the most important one.
You see, the cornerstone is the one between two walls; it is used to get perfect angles for the rest of the building. That's where they start and build from, and if they don't get it right, the whole building is wrong! The world has rejected this Rock which everyone must build their house upon, in order to withstand God's judgement:
 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” (Matthew 7:24-27)
The world rejected Christ because He didn't come to them like they wanted Him to....the Jews wanted Him to be a conquering, avenging king, and instead He came as a suffering servant. The Greeks simply thought the whole idea of a God Who would become a man and die for the world was just foolishness. Today, many people reject Christ just because He declared that He was the only Way. Others because He demands lordship of their lives. For both of these folks, following Jesus is just too narrow a path, so they reject Him and refuse to follow. They'd rather have a god who submits to their will and gives them whatever they want. But without Christ -- no building, no life can stand.

As we wind up our week of study, do we find ourselves encouraged by the privileges and honors that we enjoy now, and that we will enjoy in heaven? Peter wrote this specifically as a "pep talk" for discouraged believers, and as we start a new year, it's good to remind ourselves of these privileges.
God thinks we are special:
The Lord your God is with you,    the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;    in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
    but will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17)

Let's praise God and glorify Him for all He has done for us, and for what He will bless us with in the future!

2 comments:

Katie Isabella said...

Gold. Pure gold.

ckrut said...

Loved the story of the missionary. We're not home yet. What rejoicing there will be!