Offensive Rocks

As a pastor, you never know what’s on the other side of a lunch with a congregant. They may have something to say about the church, themselves, or about you. In the case of a lunch a few years back, it was about me: “Jamin, that was the worst message you’ve ever preached.”

You’ll never quite know how to respond to statements like that. I mean, I get it—I preached about how hard it can be for people to believe in something like resurrection (a basic belief upon which Christianity stands) and I preached this on Easter no less. But my point was to not be surprised when outsiders struggle to accept our message. It was hard for ancient, unenlightened, supernatural-believing, non-Westerners to wrap their minds around, so you better believe it’s going to be hard for people in our culture. That’s why we call it “faith,” because try as you may, there will never be an apologetic so strong that you will be able to come to Jesus with a logical, rational mind only. At some point, you’re going to have to have faith. And if you try to get saved without faith, your Christianity will eventually crumble when something you don’t understand and can’t explain finally comes your way.

Jesus, Paul, and Peter all liked to draw reference to Old Testament passages that referred to Jesus as a rejected cornerstone. Such stones are crucially important in building structures as they must serve as a firm foundation that hold walls together. A bad cornerstone means a bad structure, and a bad structure means eminent collapse.

But as is often the case in the Kingdom of Heaven, the cornerstone God provided was “unexpected”—for the cornerstone was Jesus himself. It seemed to God’s people that there were better rocks to use. Perhaps Jesus seemed a little too jagged or edgy to serve in such a capacity—as though a certain amount of faith would have to be invested in using this particular rock to secure a building. It didn’t fit the mold of what they would use from their own rational minds. Yet this is the rock God provided, and it is the cornerstone upon which he has placed the bricks of his people upon.

To passerbys, our structure will usually look weird when they see it, for the Bible recognizes our cornerstone as “a rock of offense.” “What we’re those crazy people thinking, building a structure like that? And to put that rock there of all places!”

Though to others, our cornerstone will serve as a proof of our faith, encouraging them to stack themselves onto the structure. “What on earth—I can’t believe that thing is still standing. Clearly there’s something to this.”

The cornerstone we preach about will not be accepted by all. Even Jesus did not have that kind of success. Indeed, his message got him killed. Furthermore, he was fine with rejection and recognized that the Holy Spirit would open the ears of those who were ready to receive his message as he preached it. And that means that we can expect to be rejected too, and that we can handle it when it happens.

*This devotional comes from the themes found in 1 Peter 2:1-10 in today’s CommonPrayer.net passage.

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