“Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God’s sight…” (1 Peter 2:4, NRSV)
Many years ago, someone decided it would be a good idea to build a new church. Meetings were had, opinions gathered, compromises discussed, decisions made, and plans eventually drawn up.
It was going to be a marvelous building with its imagined beauty unrivaled. The implied goal of felt awe and reverence upon first eyesight was a sure thing. The spirit of the community was sure to be raised as the new steeple soared across the landscape. Everyone was excited about the future possibilities.
So building commenced. There was much consternation about the appropriate materials during the conversations leading up to the actual construction. Would brick do? How about reusable bamboo? The builder eventually came to the decision, stone. Beautiful limestone all of the same size, shape, orientation, and color. The builder placed each stone with utmost care, satisfaction, and conviction.
The night before the dedication of this glorious new church, there was a storm. First, high-speed straight-line winds howled, so the top stones tumbled over. Next hail battered the building, so the middle stones broke down piece by piece. Finally, the torrential rains came, and the bottom stones crumbled beneath themselves.
Crowds formed the next morning and shook their collective heads at the calamity wondering “what went wrong?”
Someone else also decided to build a church at the same time. Meetings had, opinions gathered, compromises discussed, decisions made, and plans eventually drawn up.
Instead of selecting those same limestone pieces, this builder decided upon a more eclectic group of stones. Slate, granite, sandstone, flint, marble. Rocks of different sizes, shapes, orientations, and colors were selected, gathered, and placed. Onlookers scoffed at the apparent naivete of the builder. “How could this thing stand? How could this church survive?” they asked.
The night before the dedication of this disparate new church, there was a storm. First, high-speed straight-line winds howled, but the top stones never gave way. Next, hail battered the building, but the middle stones held their ground. Finally, the torrential rains came, but the water flowed freely down the side and into the soil.
The crowds from the blown down church made their way to the other side of town to find another still standing. With slack-jaws, they wondered, “what went right?”
They couldn’t see the bright and warm cornerstone which held all the other stones in place and the mortar which bound them together, differences and all.
*based on Craddock, First and Second Peter and Jude, Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1995, p. 38-9.