A couple nights ago I was out having coffee with my dear friend Raylenne when God brought two desperate and down and out strangers (aka: people we’d never met before) to us. Life with Jesus is surely a wild adventure!! When something like that happens, you know God has already been working behind the scenes in their lives and the timing of the interchange is planned and perfect. So we pointed both souls to Life with Jesus (what they can have with Him now) as well as we knew how in the short time we had. Both were definitely interested in talking about Jesus. Yet both also seemed content to settle where they were in life—asleep to Jesus’ own Life at work in them. Living without all the riches and wonder of the Christ-life. On our way home as we were discussing the exchanges, we also talked about what we might say differently next time, and how we might be better ready for the next surprise encounter. One of the lessons for us to learn that Raylenne quite poignantly honed in on, one point of discussion we could improve on, was that people need to be pointed to change.
Hold this story and thought for a bit, and we’ll come back to it as we draw this to its close.
THE STONE THE BUILDERS REJECTED
Have you ever wondered what it means that Jesus is the “chief cornerstone”? 1 Peter 2:7 says that “the stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone”. Today we’re going to challenge ourselves to ask the question, “have I rejected the Stone the ‘builders’ rejected too?” Before you jump too quickly to your answer to this question, read on…
Something I think about quite a lot is that it was the Bible (particularly Old Testament law) scholars of Jesus’ day who didn’t recognize Him as their Messiah when He came. Not only did they not recognize Him, but they flat out rejected that this man could be their long-awaited Messiah they felt they knew everything about. In fact, it was those who were believed to know the very most about the Scriptures that totally missed Him when He came on to the scene. These who dedicated their whole lives to studying the Scriptures, memorizing them, analyzing them, seeking them, obeying them, and teaching them were totally taken aback by Jesus, His teaching, His life, death, and resurrection.
Interestingly, it ended up not being those of such acclaimed religious or educational status who pioneered the global and indestructible movement of Christianity in the first century A.D. It was Jesus, and a small band of lay “nobodies” (after HIs ascension) who were responsible for the spread of this world-altering, revolutionary movement, which continues in great strength down to this very day.
So how is it, that the “Chief Cornerstone” was the stone the “builders” (priests, scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees) rejected, but which the “nobodies” came to recognize and receive? What was different between these two people groups that caused such differing responses to the same Man?
FIRST OF ALL, THE “BUILDERS” DIDN’T RECOGNIZE THEIR MESSIAH.
This means that in all their study, in all their theory, in all their research, the conclusions they’d drawn about what the text was saying about Him were flat out false. Study/research/expertise, after all, doesn’t guarantee correct conclusions. They clearly misinterpreted the meaning of the Scriptures. Human methods—even the most brilliant human methods—were not (and still are not) sufficient in themselves for interpreting the Scriptures. They misunderstood who the Messiah would be, what His purpose was, and why He was needed. Jesus looked nothing like their Messiah. Essentially, they misunderstood everything.
SECOND THE “BUILDERS” DIDN’T BELIEVE HIM WHEN HE SPOKE.
During Jesus’ tenure on earth, when He was teaching pristine truth, interpreting the Scriptures perfectly, many were unwilling to believe Him. Their stubborn hearts were unwilling to shift from what they “knew” in order to believe the One who spoke pristine truth to their souls. Perhaps they feared the “shame” of having been proven wrong. Yet for those who resisted such a fear, and believed anyways, Jesus became their “chief Cornerstone”, and they were not put to shame.
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.” (1 Peter 2:6-8)
THIRD, THE “BUILDERS” DIDN’T TRUST GOD.
As the pursuit of God became difficult or confusing, contrasting with their former (wrong) interpretations of the Scriptures, the leaders of Israel, the “builders”, in Jesus’ day settled for human method and knowledge and theology. Hear this: Learning theology is easier than learning the mysteries of God. It takes the Holy Spirit to teach the mysteries of God (1 Cor. 2:6-16). A white hot pursuit of God involves an interdependence on His Spirit to lead one to know Him. The Spirit may not have been in people yet, but He was surely with them (John 14:17). The Spirit was still present and able to lead them. It was promised even in the Old Testament that if the people sought Him with all their hearts, He’d be found by them (Jer. 29:13-14). Yet when the going gets tough in Bible Study, those going often settle for less than what is promised. They don’t trust God to deliver on His promises.
Difficulty in our study causes us to believe the same lie many in Jesus’ day believed: our conclusions couldn’t be wrong, we just can’t fully understand the sayings that appear counter to our interpretations. And we fall paralyzed in fear of our inadequacies, rather than pressing in and through by faith in God who promised He can and will lead us all the way.
THE DANGER IN NOT PRESSING THROUGH IN OUR SEARCH
There is very very real danger and tragedy in not pressing on in our search for clear understanding of who the Chief Cornerstone really is! The scribes and Pharisees had settled for their own understanding of who He would be, unwilling to move from their position. Yet we KNOW they did not understand the scriptures correctly regarding Him. They missed the point of Him. To the point that they didn’t recognize Him when He came.
We face the same danger of missing Christ in our own (even Christian) lives when we don’t press on in our searching! We’ve been told many things about Jesus. Our Christian culture has settled into a generally accepted understanding of who He is and what He came for… but I ask you, how many questions are still out there? How many things in the Scriptures are still not known? Concerning the “unknowns”, we settle with the conclusion that Jesus will tell us when we get to Heaven. But what if this settling causes us to miss Him while on Earth? Didn’t He promised that He could lead us into all truth? Didn’t He promise to be known by us? What if we are missing the point of Jesus altogether? What if we’re living far under what we could be living now? What if we’re severely missing His purposes for us still alive on Earth?
And what if we’re missing these things because, out of fear, we don’t trust God to be and do as He said He is and does? Friends, in this age where the Spirit indwells anyone who believes in Him, in this age of having the entire completed canon of Scriptures so available to us, we have no reason to miss who He is, why He came, and the full truth of what He’s done!
WE’RE MADE FOR MORE THAN WE REALIZE
The truth is Christians have been recreated for more than we realize. We have been made from God and by God into a new species. This carries significant, profound implication. And missing its implication has significant consequences. Perhaps the worst consequence of all is living asleep as Christians. Living dead. Content and settling into an existence of apparent ease and rest in the things of planet Earth, rather than awakening in spirit to the LIFE in us and God’s mind-boggling purpose for us, the Church, on Earth now..
Right at this moment, I’m fighting some severe exhaustion. Not only did I spend the entire day in the great outdoors yesterday, but last night one of my sons was struggling with nightmares. I was looking forward to a good night’s rest after all the sunshine, but ended up being woken up frequently throughout the night by my scared son. Moreover, I myself ended up having a nightmare and woke up at 3:30 this morning… for the day. I struggled to shake the terror the dream caused and so sleep eluded me. Now I’m bearing the consequences.
Exhaustion is a hard things to come out of. It can feel impossible to overcome. My body is deeply craving sleep right now. I want to succumb to the severe heaviness of my eyelids, the tiredness of my body, and sleep and sleep and sleep… and never finish writing this. (In fact, I’ve briefly dozed off a time or two while even writing this.) I’m tempted to think this isn’t very important. That there’s no big deal if it doesn’t get written. Yet… I know these are lies. I am learning to discern lies in my thinking. I know this exhaustion is a tool to shut me down from this purpose of God in me today. So right now, I’m pressing through the heavy drowsiness, trusting Jesus to be my victory over the symptoms I feel, so I can fulfill Gods’ purpose in me for this present day.
While many might look at the exhaustion and encourage me to just go crawl back into bed, that this work God has called me to can wait for later, isn’t a big deal, isn’t worth the difficulty… I believe the truth is that even these little weekly posts are significant. That for someone, somewhere, these are bringing them what God knows they need. So if it’s God’s call for me, then no matter the obstacle, I must press on in faith (that Jesus is stronger than this exhaustion, and has purpose in this) and fulfill that for which I’ve been called.
WAKING IS WORTH THE WAKING
See, He is worth awakening for. The world is worth awakening for. This life is a blink. It’s so short. Though pressing through difficulty is, well, difficult… While pressing through this heaviness of exhaustion presently feels excruciating, to be quite honest (visions of my soft fluffy pillow are dancing in my head right now), I’m pressing through it, focusing my eyes on Jesus to give me His clear mind and words to complete this, because I don’t want to forfeit what He wants to do through me today. And because you (all of us), the ones He came to rescue, are worth it.
Our enemy who enslaves us, works only toward our destruction. Yet He does it in such a deceptive manner that we don’t realize we’re being destroyed. That enemy strongly does not want us to be built up as living stones on THE Living Stone, the Cornerstone of Christ, into a holy temple and city and kingdom of God. So to keep us asleep to who we ar and WHO we could live from, he fools us into settling in our understanding of who Christ is and what He came for. He fools us into carnality. That is, simply living from our flesh. We might think of carnality as overt evil. But carnality can look as “harmless” as settling for easy, safe, comfortable, no pressure, no difficulty, no fight of faith in our lives. Oh the severe tragedy of this. There is no greater loss than that of missing out on Christ our Life (Col. 3:4)!
IT GETS EASIER
Let me tell you something friends… Remember that overwhelming exhaustion I was just telling you I was feeling? It’s literally gone. I’ve been up since 3:30AM and slept terribly last night, yet as I bring this writing to a close, the overwhelming sense to quit and curl up in bed is gone. It was really hard to keep writing. It was hard to even keep my eyes open (some of this I did type with closed eyes!). It was really hard to press through. Yet here we are. (And with no extra coffee consumed!)
Listen, our individual and corporate awakening is going to not be easy either, because we have an enemy totally opposed to our awakening. It’s going to be easy to give in, to settle back into the comfort and ease and sleep of less with Jesus. We’re going to feel the drowsiness of all our time spent sleeping—that is, living from the source of ourselves rather than the source of Christ Himself (the way we are naturally born to live). We’re going to feel we can’t stand (Eph. 6:10-13). We’re going to feel strongly drawn back into sleeping, into living from our own strength. But seek to recognize when this happens and what is causing us to revert (Heb. 5:14)! I promise you… pressing on and up and in is worth it! Persevering through the difficulty and obstacles and even oppression drawing us back to sleep is worth it!
The wonderful news is that living awake will begin to feel more natural as you learn the process of living from Christ. As you awaken to your genuine self, freed in Christ, going back to the old self, the old life will become increasingly unacceptable. But not based on principle alone. But based even more so on the JOY of LIFE from Him, to Him, and through Him you’ll come to start living and enjoying! There’s NOTHING like living IN Christ, and living IN His whole purpose for us on Earth!
IMAGINE ALL THE PEOPLE
Can you only imagine if the whole corporate Church (that is, all Christians) awoke? If we all learned how to live from Christ Himself, and not from our own source of strength?! Just imagine the great presence and power of God upon Earth!!! You guys—this is the desire of God! This is what our aim is! In Revelations 21-22 we see that what time and creation is headed for is not us going to Heaven when we die, but Heaven itself converging with Earth! Not us dwelling in Heaven, but God coming to dwell on Earth—albeit the new Earth! And friends, THIS IS ALREADY possible IN the Church!! The day Jesus died is the very day this was made possible—in us! We do not want to miss this!!!!
CHANGE IS NECESSARY
Remember those two people who God brought to me and my friend Raylenne the other night? Remember how Raylenne pointed out that we should challenge people specifically toward change? Let me encourage you in this way today. What is it that distracts you from seeking the depth of who Jesus is, seeking the answers to your unanswered questions about Him, seeking what He really accomplished not just for life after death, but for life on Earth right now? What distracts you from living from Him today? Maybe its a strong propensity for something that replaces your felt need for Him (people, alcohol, food, television, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, video games, anything), maybe its a sense that you already know all about Jesus, maybe its a sense that you already are living a “good Christian life”, maybe it’s an overly full schedule, maybe it’s a bedtime that’s too late, a rise time that’s not early enough, a relationship that’s unhealthy or out of balance. (Please know: there’s no sense of judgment in me as I ask these questions. I could make a list pages long of what has distracted me from digging deeper for who Jesus is and drawing Life from Him!) Whatever it may be, Jesus is worth the setting aside of these distractions or deceptions in your life. Set them aside, friend. And seek Him more. Seek Him longer. Seek Him deeper. Seek Him more intensely. Seek Him even when its hard or confusing. Eyes fixed on Him, seek Him at all cost. Till the questions are answered. Till He is found—in abundant life-infusing, life-revolutionizing union with you! He will not be manifest in us until we do! Let me say it again, living awake in the abundant life of Jesus is worth the price of what it takes to seek Him!
In the end, there’s really no price, no loss… only gain! I promise!
But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord… (Phil. 3:7-8)
Seek Him friends. Fight all feelings that keep you feeling like you can’t or don’t want to. Fight with faith that what Christ has promised—that you CAN find Him and His abundant Life—can and will be surely found! Because He’s promised it to us! Press on! Press through! And press IN!
All my love to you!