The Truly Elite
As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 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.
1 Peter 2:4-5 (ESV)
Writing to a group of scattered Christians who had no real identity in their culture, Peter emphasizes who these people really are. They were rejected by the Jewish community because their Savior was the same Jesus that was rejected by the Jewish system. The secular culture viewed them as some kind of strange sect that was neither Jewish nor pagan. They were followers of a rejected and crucified master. They had no status. Yet their mission was to bless all nations. How would they ever do it?
Sociologists tell us that societies are changed by the influence of the elite. Those who are recognized as top in their spheres are the ones that make changes that endure. For instance, a Harvard graduate carries more weight than a graduate from Middletown College in Mississippi, even though both have received basically the same training. In the realm of the newly inaugurated kingdom of God, the same holds true. The elite are the keys to change. But the identification of the elite is determined by God’s choice rather than man’s achievement.
The temple was prominent in all cultures. Babylon was filled with temples. So were Egypt and Persia. The Israelites’ temple was the center of the city, and the city was the center of the country, and the country was the center of the world. In other religions, the temples were monuments of their gods who actually lived in the heavens. Israel’s God came and lived among them. The Holy of Holies was where God met with earth and humans. It was the most important place on earth. It made the temple the most important edifice in the world. Israelites felt privileged to just be in the city that housed the temple. The stones that made up the edifice were special stones and were the most important stones in the world.
Peter describes a radical phenomenon. These scattered believers in Jesus are declared by God to be the living stones in the living temple. They are built on the one who was also rejected by society as a whole. But God now views them as his special holy components in his final and complete temple on earth. They are to display his glory like the former temples built by Solomon and Herod, but greater. They have been carefully selected and fitted for their mission and they will be the ones that bring about the transformation that comes from God’s new creation. They are not victims of society. They are the living change agents. The love that they embody and the message they carry is able to change anyone. He who possesses such power is in the elite class.
He is describing you!