Summary: Nails were distributed to the congregation, so that they could test: if you wish to endure, you have to endure some pounding. Holes may be punched in you, too. But if you persist, ultimately you will be built up.
If you really want to grow, it’s going to cost you. If you truly expect to be built up, there will be some pain involved. No growth ever takes place without pain. That’s a law of life. That’s not negotiable. No pain, no gain. No hurt, no growth. No rough edges, no building up. If you truly want to be built up, prepare to encounter pain.
When Peter speaks about spiritual growth, he uses a word picture. The word picture is about a building. He says we are to let ourselves be built into a building.
“Like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house”.
That sounds good. It sounds good until you read a little further, and you find Peter speaking also about sacrifice, rejection, stumbling. Those things sound rather painful, don’t they? Sacrifice and rejection and stumbling – painful experiences.
But remember: no growth ever takes place without pain. If you truly want to be built up, prepare to encounter pain.
I like to watch buildings going up. The frustrated engineer in me is fascinated with new structures. Nearly every day I drive through Silver Spring and watch as just about the whole downtown is rebuilt. When I go through Fenton Street, the first thing I do is to see if I can detect what the latest changes are: new holes in the ground, new structural elements, new paint. I like to look for signs of growth. That’s the first thing I do; the second thing is to breathe a prayer of thanksgiving that it’s happening across the street from somebody else’s church and not across form ours! What a nightmare construction brings!
Now I’ve noticed that when buildings are going up, nothing says “construction” like hammers pounding on nails. There’s just something special about the whack, whack, whack of a good solid hammer hitting the nail right on the head. It feels like this is the real thing! Oh, skill saws whine, but saws cut things apart instead of putting them together. Concrete mixers growl, but concrete mixers lay down foundations instead of building things upward. High-rise cranes creak as they lift beams high in the air, but cranes just dangle those beams there until somebody joins them. For me, it’s the sound of the hammer, driving nails into wood, that really says, “building”! Hammers nail board to board; hammers nail the frame together, hammers nail the roof in place; hammers nail the wallboard on. Hammers, nails, that’s what building really is.
And so, today, in order to help Peter speak to us about being built into a spiritual house, we’re going to pound some nails. We’re going to demonstrate some spiritual principles. Up here, I’ve got a board, I’ve got nails, and, “if I had a hammer …” – oh, I do have a hammer. I’m ready to show you what Peter meant. But I need your help too.
[Nail packages passed down rows]
You have nails. You don’t have hammers or boards, but you do have nails. And as you handle your nails from time to time, you’ll be reminded of one important fact: nails hurt. Nails hurt. But again: no pain, no gain. No hurt, no growth. If you truly want to be built up, prepare to encounter pain.