Summary: Mission Festival Sermon: Through the power of the Cross and Resurrection, we are invited to be both builders and spiritual stones in the Spiritual Temple being built by God.
I want to talk with you today about building, because you see, we’re builders. From the time we’re born, we start building. As babies, we spend all our energy and effort building bodies and vocabularies. As young adults, we build our knowledge and our skill. We build relationships with others. Eventually, we will build a special relationship with a special person. And from this one special relationship, we’ll build a marriage. Together we’ll build a house and turn it into a home. And then we’ll build a family. We’ll build estates, bank accounts, and many other things. We all build because, you see, we’re builders.
But not everything that we build has lasting value. Years ago, I worked for a computer company. Our company’s specialty was medical informatics. That’s a fancy way of saying that we computerized hospitals and medical facilities. In 1992 we were contracted to build a state-of-the-art computer center at a large hospital. Part of that work included taking out the old computer center. I still remember the day that the workmen arrived to tear down the old computer facility. One of the men opened the doors to the master interconnect panel. Inside was a huge, complicated honeycomb of circuits. The workman lifted a huge sledgehammer and let it fly. In just a short time he had torn down what others had taken countless months to design and build.
This event led to some very important insights. You see, my colleagues and I had been spending 14 and 15-hour days to design and build the very best computer facility a hospital could want. And when that sledgehammer started flying, it told me that one day, our labor of love – what we had spent so much time building - would be obsolete. Just like the old computer system, our work would end up in bits and pieces on the floor. You see, not everything that we build has lasting value.
Building is important. It tells a lot about us. You see, what we build often describes who we are. The pharaohs built pyramids as testaments to themselves. Countries build monuments to testify of their power and might. But Jesus told his followers to build carefully. He said to them, “Build up treasures in heaven. Build things that will last forever.”
Building for eternity - Who does that sort of thing? What kind of materials last forever? Let’s find out. St. Peter tells us in the Epistle Lesson for today: “4 Come to the Lord, the living stone rejected by people as worthless but chosen by God as valuable. 5 Come as living stones, and let yourselves be used in building the spiritual temple, where you will serve as holy priests to offer spiritual and acceptable sacrifices to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 2:4-5)
In these words we learn that God Himself is the builder. God started out with the Cornerstone. He chose a strong one – Jesus Christ. But men thought that the Cornerstone just wasn’t good enough. Peter tells us that people considered Him worthless – so much so that they killed Him on a cross. God’s design was to build for eternity. We changed God’s plan into nailing the Savior to the cross. That’s what humanity thought of God’s building program. You see, this side of the fall, we’ve been under the ill-conceived idea that we know better – that we can tell God how to build.
But God had already chosen Jesus. He wasn’t about to throw out a plan conceived from the foundation of the world. Jesus dying on the cross was part of the building process. You see, Jesus Himself said, “Destroy this temple and I will rebuild in three days.” There would be no thwarting what God had designed. The grave would not hold Him. And so Jesus rose from the dead and the Cornerstone was laid.
And so God began building for eternity. God started to build a spiritual temple. It was very different from how man has built. About one thousand years before, King Solomon undertook the building of Israel’s first temple. It was a beautiful, ornate structure. Solomon used the finest cedar, olive wood and gold. People thought that it would stand forever. To build the temple, Solomon did something that we don’t always hear about: He conscripted 30,000 workers – he used slave labor to build the temple. In spite of it’s splendor, In spite of the work, Solomon’s Temple would not stand. When the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar attacked, the temple Solomon built was destroyed.
The spiritual temple that God is building is different. You see, God is building for eternity. We are invited to both be the workers and the building material. When by grace through faith God calls us, He inlays us into the spiritual temple that He is building.