Living and Precious Stones
(1 Peter 2:4-7, Rev. 21:10-21, Mal. 3:16-18, 1 Cor. 3:9-15)
Jesus Christ is the chief cornerstone of the city of God. All that God builds, that city made without hands, rests upon Christ. As His people we learn to build His way cooperating with His Spirit. If we build apart from Him, it will come to nothing. All our building will be tested by fire and only what is genuine will remain. If we read through the references above we see a beautiful pattern. The word precious is repeated several times. As we would follow Jude’s exhortation to keep ourselves in the love of God, we would more and more know how valued we are by our Father.
I often consider John, the one whom Jesus loved. Jesus’ love for him was multi-faceted. To Jesus, John is a friend, he is family, and he is one that Jesus redeemed by laying down His life. I think it evident, even obvious, that John wrote his gospel and 3 letters after the visions on Patmos. They are on another plane from all the other writings of the new covenant. That is not to diminish the others which are valuable in their own right. John fell as a dead man at the revealing of the glory of Jesus Christ. And then was led from revelation to revelation by heavenly messengers. He lived to write to the churches, and, as many understand, left Patmos to end his days in Ephesus. He wrote that perfect love casts out fear. His fear of the glory of God, expressed by his falling down as dead, was displaced. He saw the Lamb open the scroll and heard all that was spoken. And he lived to exhort us to love as the Lamb has loved us.
As John walked through his own life, the Lord brought him from glory to glory. As Christ is, so are we in this world. John could write that because he knew it. It is the same for us. Every working of the Spirit in our lives refines us to shine brighter and brighter until that perfect day. As we speak with one another about circumstances and situations, let it be with grace with a view to redemption. The Lord hears and considers it precious. (Malachi 3) We share in His sufferings when we see the despair, the wounded, the hungry, the poor in spirit. We want them to know that Jesus wants to give them a drink, even His Spirit. When we see the failures of brothers and sisters and are grieved and bring it before Him, He counts it precious. When we take our place on the wall as we say, and stand in the gap, it is precious to Him.
Yet, He is bringing us to something higher in our experience. In his vision John saw the New Jerusalem, the heavenly city, coming down from the presence of God. That city carries His presence. John loved the earthly city but that city could not fulfill the purpose God had. The heavenly city is built by God along with those who learn to build with Him. Those are the apostles and in addition to being builders they are foundation stones themselves. John saw himself as a foundation stone of this city whose builder and maker is God. While we may see ourselves as watchmen, the Lord would refine us and place us upon the foundation and the backs of others who have gone before us to be precious stones in the wall of His city. To become such a precious stone is of more value than much doing. The doing matters to be sure but who we become is the ultimate intention of our Father.
His desire, His predestined purpose, is to have many sons like the first-born Son. He is bringing many sons to glory. As we move on in this life, He will bring us through the fire. Every testing is like the refiner of gold or silver, or the one who polishes and cuts the diamond. Notice how John describes the city walls. Upon the 12 foundation stones are 12 courses, 12 layers, of precious stones. They differ in color and name but all are jewels, transparent so that the glory of the Lamb shines through them. This is our calling, to shine. So let your light shine. No effort of ourselves can assist that shining. The flesh, our self-love, hinders. My frequent cry has been for the Lord to purge out all that hinders that shining. Those are the things that offend that Jesus says will be removed. We are built together and refined in His presence. Abide, stay, in that place.
As we submit and cooperate with that process throughout our lives, the fire at the last day will not have much to consume. So let us submit to every working, every discipline of the Spirit that we might be that bride He waits for and desires. I am my beloved’s, the Shulamite says, and His desire is for me. May the Lord bring us to that awareness.