"You are coming to Christ, who is the living cornerstone of God's temple. He was rejected by people, but he was chosen by God for great honor. And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What's more, you are his holy priests. Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God." 1 Peter 2:4-5  

Apostle Peter uses interesting and powerful imagery here to describe the church. Jump back to an earlier interaction captured in Matthew 16:18 where Jesus speaks powerfully into Peter's life saying, "Simon Peter, you are the rock. Upon this rock I will build my church." Peter, whose name literally means "rock", would eventually understand that the church Jesus describes would not be made of bricks and mortar but of people.
 
Let's look closer at Jesus' words to Peter as recorded in Matthew's gospel. Immediately before Jesus identifies Peter as the Rock, Jesus tells him "You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being." It is God is heaven who pursues us, draws us to Himself, redeems us, and sends us forth. It is not our initiative; it is our response. And our hope is built upon a lifetime of responding to God's call in our lives, together, on mission.
 
Many years later, Peter writes the letter cited above stating that a church is not a building, a church is a living and breathing embodiment of Christ. The Body of Christ is brought together for ministry; providing strength, healing, and shelter for those wandering and lost in the world. "You" - meaning everyone who is part of this temple - "are his holy priests." This is a foundational concept for a missional community.
 
We are brought together for a purpose. We battle with the powers of hell. Jesus assures us that the evil we struggle against will not overcome us. The Kingdom of God will prevail; not because of our individual strength but because of our collective identity as "his spiritual temple." We are the "living stones" of a building built by God, with Jesus as the head, and led by the Spirit. This is what it means to be a community on mission.
 
So, what is the mortar that holds these "living stones" together? The Holy Spirit flows in and around us with comfort, conviction and creates in us an attitude of love and unity. The Spirit makes us one. That mortar is bonded by love, agape love, that comes only from our Lord.
 
Jesus lays the foundation: "This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn't confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. You didn't choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. This is my command: Love each other." (John 15:12-17).
 
Peter heard these words as Jesus spoke them. Peter received direct instruction from the Son of God about what it means to be part of this spiritual temple. Love each other. Fit together like blocks in a temple wall. Love each other. Bear each other's burdens. Love each other. Depend on each others' strengths. Love each other. Forgive each others' weaknesses. Love each other. Create a vision together. Love each other. And on this Valentine's Day, focus on the foundational values that creates in us hope, both in our families and in our mission. Love each other.
 
We are calling deaf and hard of hearing young people to become members of this holy, spiritual temple. We are calling them to become holy priests; regardless of where they work or what they will do for a living. We have much to do in helping them know God's call on their lives and equally, we have a lot of work to do in creating church settings that welcome them. This is part of Collaborative Community Strategy. This is the foundation of the Fourth Wave of Deaf ministry.
 
Do not grow weary in doing good. We are in a battle for the hearts and minds of young people who are deaf and hard of hearing. Our enemy is fierce but our victory is assured. The gates of hell cannot stand against this spiritual temple. Do your part in creating a defense against darkness and a shelter full of light. Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, we offer spiritual sacrifices that are pleasing to God. We are His people.

 

Commnets? Bob Ayres

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