Lively Stones

I recently pooled the opinions of some friends over at Critique Circle on renaming the books in my WIP writing project. It was loads of fun to toss out ideas and get feedback, as they tossed out great ideas to chew on and encouraged me as fellow comrades in the trenches of writing. After it, or the third volume of my trilogy, I believe I’ve finally settled on the title “Lively Stones.” It’s a funny turn of phrase isn’t it? I hope that’s a good thing. Catchy, and all that.

See, my protagonist is based largely on the disciple Peter from the Bible, so I’ve been reading I and II Peter over and over lately, trying to wrap my head around not only what God was translating to us through Peter, but to get a better grasp of the disciple’s mindset that made him the perfect voice for that particular message (as an aside and as a FYI, I’m a firm believer in the inerrancy and the divine plenary inspiration of the Bible, in which its “authors” were specifically used to transcribee God’s message to us using their own vernacular and temperament–not their bias). As I was reading, I was slapped upside the head with this verse:

Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.  I Peter 2:5

I was struck by that phrase “lively stones” because it was such a descriptive metaphor. The word “lively” in the original Greek is zao, its meaning “to be warm. To have life, be alive, used of natural living” (Strong’s 2198). The image is that of warm, living and breathing stones being used to build a great house, over which Christ both presides (“But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we…” Heb 3:6). Not only that, but He is also the foundation–the cornerstone (II Peter 2:6-8)–of a house in which those very stones (we Christians) are part of a nation of priests setting sacrifices on an altar, not of blood but of spiritual offers of praise to a holy God.

Beautiful, right?

Just a few weeks ago, 395 churches in the greater Dallas-Fort Worth area launched an initiative called “Explore God.” I’m fortunate to be involved in one of those churches and have been blessed by our discussions on some of Christianity’s tough questions, questions like “if God is so good, why is there suffering in the world?” and “is the Bible really reliable?” A couple weeks ago, the big talking point was “what is our purpose?” Now, people who know me, know I’m not really much of a talker, especially when it comes to said-talking in front of groups of strangers about difficult questions when I’d really like to hide under the pew instead. And yet, little mousie-me found myself voicing something I hadn’t talked about much before… to anyone. “Our purpose is to make a choice,” I said, probably too quietly. “To make THE choice. And once we believe, once we’ve chosen God and His Son as our redeemer, our purpose then is to glorify Him.”

"Our purpose is to make a choice," I said, probably too quietly. "To make THE choice. And once we believe, once we've chosen God and His Son as our redeemer, our purpose then is to glorify Him."
“Our purpose is to make a choice,” I said, probably too quietly. “To make THE choice. And once we believe, once we’ve chosen God and His Son as our redeemer, our purpose then is to glorify Him.”

That sparked a bit of a discussion, largely on exactly it means “to glorify” something. Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary defines “glory” as “the honor resulting from a good opinion.” Nowadays, we don’t use words like “glory” and “honor” much in our normal conversation–they really do feel like archaic terms–so even that seemed like a hard way to describe our purpose. Put simply, glory is the ultimate recognition of something. When we think of a battlefield (or even playing fields for that matter) we know that the “glory of the field” is everyone’s acknowledgement, their recognition that, hey, it was that guy. That’s the guy who did that incredible, amazing thing. He’s the one. He gets all that credit and we’re going to tell everyone that he’s the man. Because he deserves it.

That is glorifying someone.

Likewise, back in our topic’s verse, our purpose is very clearly defined. As living stones in Christ’s House, we are to “offer up spiritual sacrifices.” Of praise, of honor, of glory. A few verses later, verse 9 explains that sacrifice further as to “shew forth praises of him who hath called you out of the darkness into his marvelous light.” Because He did this incredible, amazing thing, and He is worthy of that praise.

What I love even more about verse 5 is that we are not simply described as a stone, a solitary rock out in the middle of some abandoned field, but as part of a group of “stones” on a foundation that is Christ. As you may have guessed from all the haths and archaic words I use in my Bible quotes, I’m a KJV kinda gal and I’ve got my reasons to be. For starters, what’s cool about the King James Version is that plurals and singulars are easy to pick out, while in modern English it’s actually way more difficult to determine if “you” means an individual or a group of individuals (unless you’re from the South, where “y’all” has been perfectly defined to indicate a group of “yous.” Yay Texans!). Here’s an easy rule to remember (taken from the BereanResearchInstitute.com): any pronoun that starts with a “t” is singular (thee, thy, thine). Any pronoun starting with a “y” is plural and/or universal (you, ye, your). Confused? If it starts with a “y”, insert a “y’all” and you’re set! It makes a HUGE difference since this ambiguity between singular/plural in some translations of the Bible has actually caused some theology issues in the past.

Now check out that main verse again:

Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.  I Peter 2:5

So, the verse is saying “y’all are living stones.” Notice that nearly every word there (remember, ye = y’all, and priesthood is collective) in reference to the reader is plural, except house. We’re not out there all on our lonesome, trying to hold up the walls by ourselves. It is one big ol’ community effort of being built and of praising God in His Son’s House.

It all just makes me want to bust out into song: I’m so glad I’m a part of the family of God.

 

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