1 Peter 2:4–5 (NKJV)
4 Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, 5 you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
Today is the first Sunday of Advent, the time of year when we recall both God’s promise to our fathers that one day He would send a Son of Adam to rescue us from sin and death and God’s promise to us that one day that Son shall return in glory to vindicate all who trust Him. It is this Son who is the subject of Peter’s epistle. Peter describes the Son as a living stone, rejected indeed by men – so deep was our ailment as human beings that we rejected the One who would deliver us, killed the physician who would heal us, stoned the king who would rule over us, crucified the Lord of Glory. Yet it is this stone that was chosen by God and precious.
So Peter calls upon us to remember the life of our Lord Jesus as we consider our own plight in the world. As Christians we dare not assume that we shall be treated better than our Master. Sometimes in His kindness God grants periods of peace and prosperity to His Church. But when He chooses to send trial, hardship, or persecution we dare not grumble or imagine something strange is happening. For we, like Jesus, are living stones, stones which are often rejected by men but chosen by God and precious. It is with these stones, with us, that God is building a spiritual house, a holy priesthood.
So why has God rescued us from sin and death? Why is he constructing a spiritual Temple from these living stones? Why establishing a holy priesthood from these sinful men and women? Peter gives us the answer – to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. God has chosen us that we might worship God. Listen to the 9th verse of this same chapter:
But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;
God has chosen the Church in order that we might worship Him, sing His praises, declare the wonder of His grace, join our voices in the congregation of the righteous and extol the excellencies of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.
This Advent our sermons focus on Jesus in the Psalms. As we consider the psalms, I would remind you why God has given them to us in the first place – they are meant to be sung. God saved you that you might proclaim His praises, that you might offer up spiritual sacrifices, that you might offer up the fruit of your lips to God. Singing praise to God is not optional – it is the reason God delivered you from your sin. So sing – don’t be self-conscious. Sing; don’t make excuses. Sing; don’t deprive the assembly of the righteous of your voice.
And as we gather in His presence to sing, let us acknowledge that we often put the cart before the horse. We often imagine that it is we who are the center of salvation – but it is not we who are the center but God. God saved us so that we might praise Him – because He is worthy of praise. Does this benefit us? Absolutely! Our greatest delight as human beings comes when we learn to extol God’s wonder more fully and completely. Is it centered on us? Absolutely not! We were delivered to sing His praises, not our own. Yet often we put ourselves at the center. So reminded of this, let us kneel and seek the Lord’s forgiveness through Christ.