I Peter 2.1-12 (CEV)
1Stop being hateful! Quit trying to fool people, and start being sincere. Don't be jealous or say cruel things about others. 2Be like newborn babies who are thirsty for the pure spiritual milk that will help you grow and be saved. 3You have already found out how good the Lord really is.
4Come to Jesus Christ. He is the living stone that people have rejected, but which God has chosen and highly honored. 5And now you are living stones that are being used to build a spiritual house. You are also a group of holy priests, and with the help of Jesus Christ you will offer sacrifices that please God. 6It is just as God says in the Scriptures,
"Look! I am placing in Zion
a choice and precious
No one who has faith
in that one
will be disappointed."
7You are followers of the Lord, and that stone is precious to you. But it isn't precious to those who refuse to follow him. They are the builders who tossed aside the stone that turned out to be the most important one of all. 8They disobeyed the message and stumbled and fell over that stone, because they were doomed.
9But you are God's chosen and special people. You are a group of royal priests and a holy nation. God has brought you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Now you must tell all the wonderful things that he has done. The Scriptures say,
10"Once you were nobody.
Now you are God's people.
At one time no one
had pity on you.
Now God has treated you
11Dear friends, you are foreigners and strangers on this earth. So I beg you not to surrender to those desires that fight against you. 12Always let others see you behaving properly, even though they may still accuse you of doing wrong. Then on the day of judgment, they will honor God by telling the good things they saw you do.
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In the first of this series, we asked the initial question arising from the I Peter text: "Who are we?" Then, we asked the second question, "If that is who we are, what is our function?" And I addressed the first of five actions: "Come to Jesus Christ." I, again, give the functions as found in the I Peter passage, quoting directly from the Scriptures:
1) Come to Jesus Christ.
2) And now you are living stones that are being used to build a spiritual house.
3) You are also a group of holy priests, and with the help of Jesus Christ you will offer sacrifices
that please God.
4) Now you must tell all the wonderful things that he has done.
5) Always let others see you behaving properly, even though they may still accuse you of doing wrong.
Now, looking at the second action, we see that we are "living stones." This is our identity as spiritual Christians. Recall, function is based on identity; this is true of all Nature: birds do not swim, turtles do not fly.
The only problem we have in living in Christ is when we do not live in concord with our nature in Christ. Acting in agreement with our nature, we are as natural in Christ as a bird flying in the sky, a turtle moving along the ground, or a rose opening its bud and beauty.
We are all "living stones." This is true of every true follower of Jesus Christ. This implies the contrast of dead stones. And the meaning of this must be seen in the context of the previous verse: "Come to Jesus Christ. He is the living stone that people have rejected, but which God has chosen and highly honored."
Being a living stone is within a coming to the "living stone." This truth of our being living stones exists within the historical fact of the Passion of Christ Jesus, our brother and our friend, our Savior: "people have rejected." Our being such living stones is in the context, likewise, of the Resurrection, for "God has chosen and highly honored" Jesus.
Therefore, this the Peter scripture clarifies, and the Church: no Christian spirituality exists apart from being within the historical, but transhistorical, Event of the Passion-Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Being living stones is a mystery within the mystery of the Life of Christ, as chosen by the Divine and manifesting that Presence in death and new life. He is the Stone, we are the stones.
Then, we each are living stones "being used to build a spiritual house." This "house," the context shows, is a temple. Each true Christian is part of the collective erection of a temple.
Two facts appear to challenge us in a time of individualism and "private spirituality." We, first, are each what we are and have purpose within the whole of Body of the Christ: "you are living stones." The scripture could read: "you each are a living stone." And the writer does connote that, for the whole temple depends on the place of each stone. Yet, the text connotes that each stone shares over-all identity, oneness, meaning, and purpose with each other stone and all the stones put together.
A second fact is that the temple is spiritual. Two facts arise from this truth: each Christian - and all together, thus - is called not only to confess Christ but to be spiritual. To follow Christ means to become more than religious, but to be becoming spiritual, or spiritualized.
The word "spiritual" here is from the same root as that for the Holy Spirit. So, each Christian is to be a person under the direct influence of the Holy Spirit: "Do not be drunk with wine, which will ruin you, but be filled with the Spirit" (Ephesian 5.18, NCV).
There is no spirituality without intent to be spiritual and a practice to be spiritual. But what is this spiritual formation in the Christian life?
Spiritual formation in the tradition of Jesus Christ is the process of transformation of the inmost dimension of the human being, the heart, which is the same as the spirit or will. It is being formed (really, transformed) in such a way that its natural expression comes to be the deeds of Christ done in the power of Christ.
*Dallas Willard. "Spiritual Formation: What is it, and How it is Done." www.dwillard.org .
Therefore, to be a spiritual temple we each commit to become a spiritual person, as we open, both individually and together, to be be-ing transformed in the inmost sanctuary of the Heart. Then, our spirituality will be the expression of the Beauty of Christ, the Mind of Love, and the Passion of the Spirit.
Finally, this spirituality is the formation of Christ within us each and, therefore, us all:
My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you - ...
(Galatians 4.19, NASB)
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*Brian K. Wilcox lives with his wife, Rocio, their two dogs, St. Francis and Bandit Ty, and their fish, Hope, in Florida. Brian is vowed at Greenbough House of Prayer, a contemplative Christian community in Georgia. He lives a contemplative life and inspires others to experience a deeper relationship with Christ. He advocates for a spiritually-focused Christianity and the renewal of the focus of the Church on addressing the deeper spiritual needs and longings of persons and empathic relating with diverse spiritual traditions, East and West.
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