Summary: Unity and cooperation will accomplish much more than criticism and isolation. God wants to bring us together as living stones to fulfil His purpose throught the Church.
During the Revolutionary war a young British soldier found himself separated from his unit, numb with cold and so far away from home. He stumbled from the woods into a small village. Going from door to door, he begged for a morsel of food and a warm fire. The doors were constantly slammed in his face. Discouraged, the young soldier searched until he found a large black kettle. He filled the black kettle with snow, then began to gather wood to build a fire. As the fire began to melt the snow the curious towns people began to watch from their windows. Soon the water was boiling and the soldier took 3 small smooth stones and very slowly dropped them in the water. With a spoon from his pouch he stirred the water. Every now and then he would dip a bit of the water out and taste it acting as if it were the best soup he had ever tasted. The curiosity of the towns people drew them out of their homes to gather around the soldier and his pot. As he dipped his spoon into the bubbling pot and tasted the soup, he told the people a few onions sure would make it taste better. An old man said he might have a few onions to spare. Soon after the onions were added to the pot, the soldier commented that a bunch of carrots, and say, about 20 potatoes would make it even better. Soon some of the towns people were back with their contributions for the pot. When the soup was done the soldier let the old man who made the first contribution have the first serving. Soon all the towns people were enjoying the stone soup. The young soldier replied, this is the best stone soup I ever had.
I hold in my hands four stones. As you can see these stones in and of themselves are nothing special. They are different in shape and size but they are merely stones. Did you know the Bible has a lot to say about stones?
▸ Jacob used a stone as a pillow the night he wrestled with God. (Genesis 28:11)
▸ Joshua set up memorial stones as a reminder for future generations of God’s power. (Joshua 4:3)
▸ David chose 5 smooth stones to fight Goliath, and only used one stone to defeat and kill him. (1 Samuel 17:40)
▸ Elijah took 12 stones to build an altar to God when he called down fire from heaven on Mt. Carmel. (1 Kings 18:31-32)
▸ There is a time to cast stones and a time to gather stones. (Ecclesiastes 3:5)
▸ Jesus told the Pharisees to let the one without sin be the first to cast a stone. (John 8:7)
▸ Jesus declared if we keep silent the stones will cry out praise to God. (Luke 19:39)
Perhaps the most interesting use of stones in the Bible is when Peter describes you and I as the Living Stones.
1 Peter 2:4-5 4As you come to him, the living Stone– rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him–5you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (NIV)
What is God’s purpose for us, the Church, as He joins us together as living stones? I believe God is saying, "Unity and cooperation will accomplish much more than criticism and isolation." Just as the English soldier got the towns people to cooperate and bring together the ingredients to make a delicious stone soup, God will bring each of us together with Christ to make us a living stone soup which can satisfy the spiritual hunger around us. Let’s look at God’s recipe for Living stone soup.
Stone #1–The Living Stone
The Living Stone is Jesus. Peter describes Jesus as the one who was rejected by men, yet chosen and precious to God.
Isaiah 53:3 He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. (NIV)
Of Jesus the Living Stone Peter continues:
1 Peter 2:6-7 6For in Scripture it says: "See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame." 7Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, "The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone," (NIV)
For those of us who have accepted God’s great gift of love to us in Jesus, He is indeed precious to us. For those who have not yet made the decision to receive Christ, God has taken this Jesus, despised and rejected by men and made Him the cornerstone–He is before all, above all, our all in all.