Huntington Bethel United Methodist Church

Cornerstone

Posted by on Feb, 2020

Today I want to talk about building projects.  Now, no, we are not starting a capital campaign to raise money for a new church building or addition.  I want to talk more about the way that buildings are constructed.  We are going to look at construction and how it relates to the message that God gave us through scripture. 

Personally, I’ve been reading through the epistles in the New Testament and I’ve really enjoyed 1 Peter.  We had another sermon on it a couple weeks ago, but soon after that passage, I stumbled upon this one and wanted to really dig into it today.  So we are going to go to 1 Peter 2:4-8 this morning.

4 Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God’s sight, and 5 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. 6 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.”  7 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,” 8 and “A stone that makes them stumble, and a rock that makes them fall.”

Here’s what I know about stone-work; practically nothing.  I have never laid a brick.  I have never cut a stone.  I couldn’t begin to tell you how to fix stone-work.  However, the one thing I know is that before you begin any project, you have to start square and level with stone.  If you look at almost every stone building, you can look outside and find what is called a cornerstone.  In today’s society, with our modern technology and building practices, cornerstones are often times ornamental.  The church here has one and it lists the trustees and pastors at the time of the church’s construction.  Many buildings have such a stone that get laid in very early in the building’s construction.

In ancient times, the cornerstone was the first stone that was laid by the builders.  It was the most important part of the process.  The stone had to be perfect.  It had to be square and level in all ways in all sides.  If the stone was slightly off in any way, it could compromise the integrity of the entire building.  Because of this, when a building was begun, they would bring in several stones that the master builder, the guy in charge, would examine and choose the best of to begin the process.  The others were rejected and used elsewhere.  Every stone that gets laid for that project would be laid in relation to the squareness and straightness of that first perfect cornerstone.

I know that this has been a lot about construction, but it leads into what the message that Peter is trying to tell the people receiving this letter.  They knew this process and knew how important a cornerstone was.  Peter is telling us that Jesus was that perfect cornerstone in which we would build our new religion.  That the stone of Jesus was so perfect that we can base all of our faith in God relative to it and it would be true and right. 

Ok, let’s forget about stone-work for just a minute and let’s talk about something maybe a few more of us can relate to; Legos.  Who hasn’t played with Legos at some point in their life, even if for just a minute?  Well, as a former Lego fan, and the father of a couple of pretty big Lego fans today, one of the first things that anyone does when they get their first set of Legos is to try and build the tallest tower possible.  It’s like a rite of passage.  It doesn’t take long to realize that the higher you take the tower, the more unstable it becomes.  Pretty soon you’re complaining to your mom that the kitchen table isn’t level or that the house leans slightly to the south.  Even at the youngest of ages, these first-time builders learn the importance of a solid foundation.

Here’s another one, anyone ever play the game Jenga?  Jenga is that game where it’s a tower made of smaller wood blocks and you have to take a block out of the tower and place it on top without the tower falling.  At some point, someone inevitably takes one of the base pieces out and the game nears its end.  Again, for those that have played, you quickly learn that it’s not just about getting the block out of the tower on the lower part, but you have to focus on placing it back on top of the tower as square as possible too.  If you don’t, everything above that is in jeopardy of leaning and the original square base is now not sufficient to support the angled tower. 

Peter is telling us here that Jesus is the base that our tower can be built upon.  That base is so strong, so wide, so stable, that the faith of all of us can be built upon it and it can reach to the sky.  Even more so, those other blocks that the builder rejected for their imperfections; rocks that would compromise the stability of the structure, are made perfect through God and they will be solid and firm in their faith.  You are those imperfect stones.  Jesus was rejected by the builders (the Jewish leaders) as not being perfect, but his perfection was so great that he can make all of us perfect just by being placed next to him. 

If we can accept that we can be built into a faith that is held in place by Jesus and his teachings, then we can continue to build.  But what are we building?  What will be the result of all this work?  Here’s the other thing that I know about stone-work; you have to have a plan.  Legend has it that at the building of King Solomon’s great temple that the stones were carved in the quarries and mountains, then transported to the site of construction.  So perfect was the preparation that the stones were able to be placed together perfectly without the need of further fitting.  They were cut and labeled far away and then able to be perfectly assembled on site.  They basically had one of those little books that Legos come with that show you how to take the bag of colored pieces and then turn that into an airplane or a ship or whatever. 

King Solomon’s architects had a plan.  It was a good enough plan that very little, if anything, didn’t work out as planned for the building.  People, God has a plan for you.  It is a good plan.  It is a plan that will see the completion of your “spiritual house,” as Peter puts it, be completed in such a way that God’s glory can shine through it.  Your life, your stone, can be made perfect. 

How can we do that?  It’s easy enough.  Two steps are all that I see.  First, our stone is only made perfect in relation to the stone of Jesus.  Without using Jesus as our foundation, our stone is rejected for being imperfect.  We cannot build on anything but the cornerstone of Jesus.  Second, we have to follow the plan.  It started with Legos as a kid but continues into IKEA as an adult.  If you’re going to build anything, you have to follow the plan.  As soon as you deviate from the plan, things go askew.  God has a plan for your life.  It’s all right here.  It’s all within the pages of this book.  As soon as you start to deviate from what is contained here, things go askew.  So much so that even if you’re building upon your faith in Christ, but you aren’t living the life he has commanded us to live, your building is going to topple.  If you live a great life, follow every commandment there is, but don’t put your foundation in Jesus, your building is going to topple.  You must have both.  You have to have your plan and your cornerstone, your diagram and your starting point.

So how do we get started?  I’d say it’s the same as opening a new box of Legos.  First things first; open up the directions.  Check out step 1, then find that first, most important piece to get started with.  The instructions will tell you where it is and what it looks like.  Get into your spiritual directions and begin to build your faith upon the foundation of Jesus.