It says in 1 Peter 2:4-5 (ESV), “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.” What does it mean to be a “living stone rejected by men” and what does it mean to “offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ?” The book of 1 Peter is written by Peter to believers who are suffering because of their faith in Christ. Peter understands their suffering and has faced imprisonment & beatings, simply because he denied Caesar and instead proclaimed faith in Jesus. For the Roman leadership, the new Christian faith was a threat to the Romans’ authority and power. Little did they know, faith in Christ brings peace and harmony and is inclusive, not territorial. Unfortunately, humans tend to fear what is different and new, as many devout Jewish believers did when Christ came to earth and spread his gospel of truth.
For new Christ-followers in early AD, persecution for following Jesus was an everyday reality. Their faith was being built up by apostles like Peter and his wisdom and investment. They were learning how to “…come to him [Jesus], a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious…” To be a “living stone” before God is to become a vessel of God’s love on earth and allow him to mold us into his image. It means to be grounded in God’s truth and Kingdom purposes, and to not just go in our own direction and follow our own worldly desires. One of the best ways to remain faithful to this calling on our lives is to practice spiritual disciplines as a way of spiritual sacrifice and path to grow into more substantial “living stones”.
Today, our challenge is not necessarily lack of affiliation to our faith, but instead we need to cultivate a true and genuine personal relationship with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It can become easy to casually be a Christian in our country, and we can often take our holy relationship with Jesus for granted. It is a good reminder when we hear Peter say, “…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.” But, what did Peter mean by this, really?
Offering spiritual sacrifices in one way can mean sticking by Jesus’ side as you walk through your everyday life. Being in conversation with Jesus and incorporating God into our everyday means to walk in step with the Holy Spirit in how we interact with people, our behaviors, and the decisions we make. It means to include Jesus into your very mindset and attitude to allow him to transform our hearts and affect our actions. When you pray, let the Spirit move and meditate on God’s word. I often worship by listening to Christian music. We must try to absorb Jesus throughout our day—not in a dogmatic way but in a pragmatic way. In other words—living out our faith by practicing spiritual disciplines in action of mind and body, and not just in idea or wishful thinking.
In another way, offering spiritual sacrifices can mean the habit of delving into the Bible daily. Try reading a daily devotion. One of my favorites is Sarah Young’s, Jesus Calling. I’ve done this same devotional together with my mom for almost four years now over the phone, and it has changed my life. It makes me aware of God’s calling on my life. It shows me his will and I even get excited about what God will do next in my life. God is good and his will for our lives is to help us, not to harm us. When we align with God’s Word, we naturally align with his will and purpose for our lives. We literally watch him “move” in our lives. It’s exciting, and being a Christian doesn’t feel like a task, but feels like a privilege that brings joy and purpose. Following Christ doesn’t mean we won’t face tribulations and trials, which are inevitable, but it does equip us to endure them and find purpose through them. I face many mental and physical disabilities but I understand they are in fact not a curse or because of sin from my past but something God can use in my life and through them I give him glory. I love God so much, despite my disabilities, and live life to the fullest, as much as I can. I embrace an attitude of gratitude and shed an attitude of entitlement. That decision for me is being a “living sacrifice.”
What an honor it is to be a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God because of Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice on the cross! God wants us to experience true joy. But, we cannot experience this without the obedience of practicing spiritual disciplines, and working through the hard things that our faith in Christ might bring up. Difficulties from our past, or fears about the future – even if we don’t understand how yet “we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). When we practice spiritual disciplines, like prayer, bible study, meditation, and serving others, we are literally inviting God into our very beings and spiritually communing with him. What a blessing it is to partnership with God in this way! It really is exciting to practice the Christian faith, so let us be encouraged to allow to God make us a “living stone”and build our very life into his workmanship!