Summary: As living stones we are built into spiritual houses--we grow in our walk with Jesus.
1 Peter 2:4-6 “Deeper Relationship with Christ”
We continue to talk about our response to the resurrection of Jesus Christ as a congregation and as individuals. We are doing this by studying our congregation’s mission statement. That statement reads, “Inviting everyone to a new life in Christ, a deeper relationship with Christ, and spirit-filled service for Christ. Today we will deal with the third phrase, “A deeper relationship with Christ.”
There are many things about Christianity that make it unique among the world’s religions. One central premise of the Christian faith is that God is a God of love rather than a god of judgment and vengeance. Another core Christian belief is that God is a God of grace. Though we are unable to attain salvation and a renewed relationship with God by our own efforts, God reaches out to us and saves us by his grace. The third truth that makes Christianity unique is that it is a relationship and not a religion. Christianity is much more than a set of religious principles or practices.
ONE ON ONE
Peter begins this passage of his letter by inviting his readers to “Come to Christ.” The sense of this phrase is to draw near to Jesus and enter into a relationship with him.
In the story of creation, it is clear that God created humankind for the purpose of relationship. We were created in God’s image. The Garden of Eden was a place where God could car for the crown of his creation, and we could live in a relationship with him. Humankind’s rebellion against God and desire to be god ourselves broke that relationship.
Our understanding of the cross of Jesus Christ is that not only were our sins forgiven because of his death and resurrection, but that the forgiveness of our sins also opened up the possibility of a relationship with God. The gulf that had existed because of our sinful, rebellion against God has been bridged by Jesus Christ.
When we begin that new life that is ours through the cross of Jesus, God enters into our lives and establishes a relationship with us through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. In the words of Peter, we become a temple—a place where God dwells.
This relationship with God is emphasized by Jesus when he teaches his disciples the Lord’s Prayer. In that prayer, we are invited to enter God’s presence as we would the presence of our father.
God is not coy; he does not play hard to get. God declares his love for us. God’s words and actions toward us demonstrate that God is “head over heals” in love with us. God waits for us to respond to his love.
The Bible is a collection of stories of God’s endless love and humankind’s constant turning away from that love. Adam and Eve, Noah and the flood, the Exodus, and eventually the destruction of Israel are examples of this truth.
We echo the Biblical stories in our daily lives. We turn our back on God and get distracted by the demands of everyday life. We blatantly disobey God’s will, and constantly try to convince God that he should do our will. Through all of our rebellion God continuously opens his arms to us and invites us to return to a relationship with him.
Peter calls his readers to allow God to build them up into spiritual temples. God invites us to open ourselves up to the movement of the Holy Spirit in our lives and allow the Spirit to draw us ever closer to God. Patiently, God invites us to spend time with him in prayer, meditation and study and to nurture the relationship that he has given us.
THE GLORY OF RELATIONSHIP
One of the greatest blessings that God gives us is the gift of relationships. Relationships enrich our lives unimaginably more than anything else—fortune, possessions, and career. Unfortunately, though we know this to be true, we often spend more of our time following the demands of the secondary things in life and ignore the wonders of relationships.
Relationships are dynamic. We can grow stronger and closer in our relationships or drift farther apart. If we are going to experience the fullness of the relationships that are ours, it will take time, intentionality, and commitment. It is the same with our relationship with God. If we are to draw near to God and grow in our relationship with God, we need to spend the time, make the commitment, and intentionally set about the task before us.
One of the challenges that our high school youth have attempted is to be conscious of God’s presence in their lives. They have set their cell phones and watches to remind them every sixty minutes to remember that God is present with them, and is moving in a loving and gracious manner in their lives.