Fifth Sunday of Easter
April 28, 2002
The Second Reading: 1 Peter 2:1-10
The Rev. Dr. William H. Morley
The Second Reading:
Rid yourselves, therefore, of all malice, and all guile, insincerity, envy, and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation - if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God's sight, and like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in scripture: "See, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame." To you then who believe, he is precious; but for those who do not believe, "The stone that the builders rejected has become the very head of the corner," and "A stone that makes them stumble, and a rock that makes them fall." They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
1 Peter 2:1-10
Fifth Sunday of Easter - April 28, 2002
The Rev. Dr. William H. Morley, Preacher
1 Peter 2:4-10
America is a wonderful place. One of the things I like best is that we are not afraid to laugh at ourselves. And there are plenty of things to laugh at these days.
We are probably the only people on earth who spend thousands of dollars on cars so that we leave them in driveway and put our useless junk in the garage.
Or, have you noticed that when you go to the bank, the doors are always wide open, but the pens are chained to the counter.
Sometimes I think we need to sit down and take an honest look at ourselves. To see why we do what it is that we do. It's like we need to take an appraisal of ourselves.
If you've been in the market for a new home or have refinanced your existing residence, one cannot help but learn a lot about appraisals. Unless you have all cash you need, the value and worth of the house has to meet the asking price based on the opinion of an appraiser for your loan to be approved. I don't know of a homeowner that has not been sure to point out the various improvements they have made to the property in order to insure that the appraiser did not overlook the improvement, much less assign it's proper value to the home.
Have you ever wondered what would happen to you if you and your life were appraised? If God, who is completely able to look in every nook and cranny of your life, were to apprise you right now -- what kind of qualities would He find that would add value to your life? We might not think of it too much about it, but God is in the appraisal business. The one difference is that He doesn't just make His appraisal on what you have done to make your life better, but on what He has done and intends to do with your life. As a matter of fact the Holy Scripture speaks a great deal about this kind of evaluation in both the Old and New Testaments.
In Jeremiah 29:11, God's Word says, "For I know the plans I have for you," says the LORD, "plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you hope and a future."
In Colossians 1:12, St. Paul tells us to give thanks to the Father, "Who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints of the kingdom of light."
These are just a couple of the many special blessings God has designated for us. This might tell us something about our relationship with God. God doesn't get mad and ticked off at us every time we do something dumb and trip over our own feet spiritually. He is a loving Father and we are precious in His sight.
In our lesson this morning, St. Peter takes great pains to remind us that God sees in us great potential and for us great opportunity. Therefore, let's take a few moments this morning to see what God sees when He looks at us.
" Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God's sight "
I have a friend who told me about a time he and his wife were trying to sell their home. When the real estate agent came they told him that there were several things that they were taking out of that house for their new one. After the list got fairly long, the realtor reminded them that their house had lost tremendous value because of the things they were taking.
When God begins to look at our lives we have nothing of value to show Him unless the cornerstone of our life is Jesus Christ. God's appraisal of our lives is based solely on the atoning work of Jesus Christ. For us, an evaluation isn't complete unless the total person is looked at. To God, it is never an issue of strengths and weaknesses or even good or bad-it is all about accepting Christ into our lives or not.
Isaiah 64:6, the prophet points out the big picture in all of our lives; "All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away."
All the efforts of men will never be enough to find favor with God, we know that, yet there are so many who by their actions think that personal goodness is enough.
Remember how Peter described what Christ is to our lives, "a chosen and precious cornerstone." I think he wants us to clearly understand that if we fail to get first things first-nothing else matters. Isn't it odd that there are so many good people, who think they have got it figured out? My hope and prayer for us this morning is that our hope for eternity is not in what we've done, but in what Christ has done for us.
Without Christ we have no foundation - no cornerstone - that allows us to stand in the presence of God.
" Like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifice acceptable to God through Jesus Christ."
Do you remember when pet rocks were the big fad? They were advertised as being the best pet anyone could have. You bought them, took them home and if you never looked at them again it wouldn't matter. They would still just lie around and not be a problem. We are not to be like that before God. Although some people think that being saved is the end of all things; in reality, it is just the beginning.
God sees us as "living stones" that are being built upon Christ into a spiritual house. In 1 Corinthians 3:9 we are told, "For we are God's fellow workers, you are God's field, God's building." Every time a person confesses and believes in Jesus Christ, it's like another stone is being taken from the gravel pit of sin, is purged and added to the spiritual dwelling of God.
We are to be God's Holy and Royal Priesthood. We have been set aside to work for God. In the Old Testament a priest had two distinctive roles. They were to represent the people before God, and they were to represent God's will to the people.
In the ministry of the Episcopal Church, our Catechism reminds us that the "ministers of the Church are lay persons, bishops, priests and deacons." Each of you, gathered here in St. Thomas' this morning is first called "to represent Christ and His Church" and together bear witness to him wherever you may be -- according to the gifts of the Holy Spirit given to each of you at your baptism - you are to carry on the work of Christ's reconciliation of the world - and to take your place on the life, worship and governance of the Church. Together, with Father Bill and me, we are to follow Christ, gather each week for corporate worship, and to work, pray, and give for the spread of the Kingdom of God.
Do you remember when you were a kid and you would get together with your friends to play games. Usually there would be a captain chosen and they would pick whom they wanted on their team. Everyone wanted to be picked first because that meant that you were the most valuable.
We have been chosen by God to be His people, and God sees in us an indescribable value. We need to remember what Israel came to know about God because it is meaningful to us. In Deuteronomy 7 we read, "God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth." God didn't choose us because we impressed Him with our works, or with our sincerity, or our intellect. He chose us because we willingly turned our hearts to Jesus.
I heard someone say once that America was God's chosen nation; I don't believe America is any more God's than any other place in the world.
Rather, St. Peter is talking about the church-those who have been born again in the Risen Christ. We are called to be a community of Christ's people seeking to do the will of God in all things.
Charles Swindoll once said: "If we seem out of step with the world, it is because we march to the beat of a different drummer. We sing a different national anthem, and pledge allegiance to a different flag, because our citizenship, our true citizenship is in heaven."
God is looking over our lives very carefully; He is looking to see His purpose in our life. Ask yourself: when God looks at me, does He see someone who is living in Christ and becoming the person He intended for us to be?
If for some reason you're not sure, why not come clean with God this minute. In a few moments we will recite together our confession of sins, receive His blessing of absolution, and then prepare ourselves to come to His altar to feed on his body and blood. As you receive Christ's love in the thanksgiving meal, give Him your heart and your all today.
For that, God's chosen people will say boldly, "Alleluia!"