Imagine that the materials used to construct a house somehow came alive. Roof shingles could leap into the yard. Plumbing lines could voluntarily sever. Drywall could refuse to affix to the framing.

Such a structure would be both dangerous and unsuitable for habitation. Yet this isn’t far from the image Peter describes. Christians are “living stones” being built upon the foundation of Christ, who is the true, living cornerstone. We are to create a “spiritual house” for God’s own residence.

God dwelt with humanity differently in the Old Testament. The innermost part of the Jewish Temple, the “Holy of Holies”, was cordoned off by a thick curtain protecting sinful humans from God’s most holy presence. When Jesus died, this curtain was torn in two (Matthew 27:51). Now, the Holy Spirit resides within those who believe in Christ, both individually and corporately. We are the new Temple.

It is not surprising, then, that Jesus and the New Testament authors frequently exhort God’s people to love and unify. Every quarrel, rivalry, and grudge does damage to God’s dwelling in the same way the rogue building materials we imagined earlier would wreck a house. Unkind words strip wallpaper from walls. Division and animosity knock holes in the roof and shatters windows.

Conversely, each choice to forgive and every act of loving kindness strengthens and beautifies this new Temple. And, like the irresistible pull to marvel at a beautifully-designed structure, the world beholds the glory of Christ when we obediently agree to be built God’s way.

Lord, forgive me for the petty grievances and larger grudges that I hold against other Christians. Show me where these divisions lie and empower me to repair them by your grace and your Spirit. Teach me to love others as you do and pursue the unity of your people. Amen.

Go Deeper — Read all of 1 Peter and take note of the verses that expound on this theological truth, as well as the occasions where the author gives instructions about the relationships and conduct of believers. How do these instructions take on a different weight in light of our status as God’s Temple?

Read Further — Here is how one person decided she was Getting Rid of All Bitterness.

Tags: The Letters of Peter 1 Peter 2
Photo Credit: Luz Mendoza