Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Cornerstone or Stumbling Block?

 By: Rebekah Hargraves

Photo Courtesy Of:  Clay LeConey

  “As you come to him, a living stone ejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 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 2:4-8

Something you may not know about me is that I was a raging legalist for over a decade, complete with judgmental heart and nose turned up in the air. I grieve now over the condition of my heart and my harsh view of others during that season, but I praise the Lord for the testimony I have, by His grace, of just how much He truly can change a person’s heart and life. 

This brings me to my main point for us today - that there are two common ways of “experiencing” or viewing Christ, if you will - either as the Cornerstone He truly is, or as the stumbling stone the enemy wants Him to be.

When we ponder the Old Testament prophecies concerning a Messiah and think back to the purpose of Christ's coming to this earth, we read of  Jesus' purpose of being the "Chief Cornerstone". 

We first hear of this description in the Old Testament, for example in Isaiah 28:16, “Therefore thus says the Lord God, ‘Behold, I am the one who has laid as a foundation in Zion, a stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, of a sure foundation: ‘Whoever believes will not be in haste."

One of Jesus’ roles was and is to be that Chief Cornerstone in our lives, that firm foundation for us, the one we rely on and hope in, the one in whom we find our salvation, rest, and peace. That salvation - and our heart-felt gratitude for it! -  is what then inspires us to live a life of obedience in right relationship with God, which then, in a beautiful cycle, leads to our experiencing His presence as the Cornerstone, a firm foundation to build upon as we journey through this life. 

It’s very different, however, if instead of being the person who joyfully rests in your salvation and wholeheartedly loves to obey because you know He knows best, you are instead in one of two other camps. 

The first camp is where those who are willfully disobedient reside. If you are living in willful disobedience, Christ then becomes a stumbling stone in your life, something you get tripped up on as you experience ongoing guilt over your sin. Isaiah 8:14 says,  “And he will become a sanctuary and a stone of offense and a rock of stumbling to both houses of Israel, a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.” We see this clearly confirmed in our passage today, 1 Peter 2:4-8. 

The second camp of people who experience Jesus as a stumbling block rather than a cornerstone is the legalists (this is where my experience comes in!). We read throughout the four gospels of the Pharisees, the ones who were constantly stumbling over Christ’s teachings because they rubbed up against their legalistic, man-made rules (an example of this can be found in Mathew 12:10-12).

If you are in either camp, it is incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to experience Christ as He is meant to be experienced - as the Chief Cornerstone, the sanctuary, the place of hope, rest, peace, and sanctification. If you find yourself experiencing Christ as a stumbling block (or know someone who is!) I urge us all to identify that problem and to pray for ourselves and others. Ask the Lord to work in your heart if you need to be drawn out of sinful living or legalism, either one. Ask Him to use you in the lives of others who are in those camps still, to share how Jesus is not only our Cornerstone, but desires to be theirs, as well. 

The beauty in all this is the knowledge that Christ does not at all have to remain a stumbling block in our lives or anyone else’s. He longs to be our cornerstone, our rock of defense, and He can be. Let’s pray that He makes it so.

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