LENT — Not For Ourselves

4 As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For it stands in Scripture:
“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”
7 So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,”
8 and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.
9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

What do we use stones for?

Well, not much. Not anymore. Our technology is such we can cast concrete and quarry whole sheets and slabs of rock. We don’t use stones themselves to build much anymore.

But we did. Homes, and roads, and temples, and vast pyramids, built out of rocks, raw and shaped, set into place, one upon another.

A stone is not asked if it wants to be used. Or how. Or where. It is simply used, placed where it fits best or looks best or even just where it is needed.

We are living stones in an edifice we did not design, are not constructing, and will never really use. Not for ourselves, at any rate.

And this is a hard thing. We all want an obvious, clear, meaningful purpose for our lives. Our best lives now, lives that mean what they mean primarily to ourselves. Self-defined, self-actualized, self-realized. “My life has meaning and purpose to me!” We all want that. We want to know who we are and why we are. We are taught it is what freedom means, and it is the highest human calling, our most human purpose, to define, to choose, to create our our meaning and purpose and calling.

But it isn’t. Because we are mere stones. We are fashioned and shaped and used in ways we cannot consent to and might not even approve of were we asked. And we aren’t asked. Sometimes … we have to take on faith that our lives have value and meaning and purpose, because it’s not clear or obvious on the face of it that they do. At least not to ourselves.

We are stones. We are material from which a great temple, a wondrous house of worship is being built. Our lives have value. But not necessarily because we choose that value. Or even know what it is. Our lives have value because we belong to one who chose us, formed us, shaped us, picked us for tasks we haven’t chosen and gave us purpose and meaning we don’t create.

Our lives are not our own. We are free not because we are in charge but because we aren’t. We are free to be who we are called, formed, shaped, and loved. Free to become this great spiritual house, sing in this great choir of witnesses, free to proclaim that we are a people who have received a mercy we could never deserve.

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