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Cornerstone

February 12, 2014

I readily admit I am not much of a blue collar worker. Sure, I get my hands dirty around my house with small projects, and I do help out at the occasional church work day in order to keep our building clean and up to snuff. I even have a couple of personal projects going at the moment in a 1978 Ford F-150 that’s about 1/3 of the way dismantled and a 1975 Rhodes Mark I keyboard that is currently infested with spiders. BUT… none of that really lends itself to carrying the title many of my volunteers carry. While I may have worked construction one summer, all it did was solidify my desire to find a job where I could work inside and not sweat. Even so, I did learn two very important lessons during my time on the various construction projects I was assigned to.

1. When you’re building a structure, it is of the utmost importance to have a solid foundation. 

2. If your walls are to be straight and secure, the cornerstones must be strong and in perfect alignment.

In construction today, most cornerstones are largely ceremonial and used for either decoration or to house time capsules and whatnot. However, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica, the cornerstone of a building was one of the first laid on a building’s foundation and had to be extremely solid, square, and straight as it was the basis for the rest of the building to be built upon. Simply put, without a solid cornerstone, the rest of the building was weak and susceptible to collapse.

Dictionary.com defines the cornerstone in construction terms as well, but also uses four unique definitions I found intriguing.

 Something that is essential or basic. 

And indispensable and fundamental basis.

The foundation on which something is constructed or developed.

A person or thing of prime importance.

Essental. Fundamental. Indispensable. A Foundation. Prime Importance. The cornerstone is meant to be all of these things. Now, one might simply leave this in construction terms, but that would negate the definition of a person or things of prime importance. This is where the conversation has to shift from an inanimate piece of stone to flesh and blood, body/soul/spirit…

 

Picture, if you will, someone you might consider to be indispensable to you. For me, that’s a picture of my family. Without my parents, I simply wouldn’t exist. Their union conceived me, their love and nurturing grew me, and their parenting raised me. Had anyone else in the world been my mother or father, I wouldn’t be who I am today… literally… as in, genetically I would be different. Might have the same name, but would I still have blue eyes, still have musical talent, or salt & pepper hair at 37?  Only God can answer that.

Another indispensable person to me is my wife. Without her, I would be incomplete. Without her, I wouldn’t have three of the coolest and most unique and lovable kiddos on the earth. Without her, I’d be much less organized, much more hot-headed, and probably living in a van down by the river… ok, maybe not in a van down by the river, but you get the idea…

As a Christ-follower, however, there is one person above all others which falls into the category of a cornerstone. The Bible speaks to this person in several places.

 

Isaiah 28:16 – So this is what the Sovereign LORD says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who trusts will never be dismayed.”

Psalm 118:21-23 – I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation. The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the LORD has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes.

God is not speaking of a piece of masonry, but rather using that picture as a description of one who is of prime importance. So important, in fact, that they are the cornerstone to God’s plan of salvation. It is upon that foundation the Church is built, and it is upon that foundation our salvation is made possible. The Bible reveals to us the name of this precious cornerstone.

 

Ephesians 2:19-22 – Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

Acts 4:10-12 – Then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. He is “the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.” Salvation is found in no one else for there is no other name under heaven give to men by which we must be saved.

1 Corinthians 3:10-11 – By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.

Do you see a theme here? From the time of the Old Testament prophets, God has built His plan of salvation for creation upon His Son, Christ Jesus. Jesus is the person of prime importance. Jesus is the basic essential to our faith and hope of salvation. Jesus is the indispensable and fundamental basis for our very lives as redeemed followers. Jesus is the foundation on which our very ability to come before God in a clean and righteous manner is built. My parents are important to my existence, but without Jesus, my existence may have never happened in any form. My wife is important to my life, but my Lord and Savior is integral to my very being without and within. Without Christ as the chief cornerstone of my life… my marriage, my skills and abilities, my very life… would be vastly different, and may never have even happened. Praise be to God for sending Christ to redeem His creation once and for all!

Christ not only acts as the chief cornerstone of our faith, He also causes those who are set upon Him to grow, mature, and become more than they initially are.

 

1 Peter 2:4-5 – As you come to him, the living Stone – rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him – you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 

The chief cornerstone shapes us into the image of God, that we might become “living stones”, living lives which give honor and praise to the One who loved us enough to build a foundation for our lives through Christ’s life, sacrifice, and defeat of death. Just as Jesus was the foundation for us as the Living Stone, we as living stones have the opportunity to provide a firm foundation for others to find their hope in Christ.

Have you allowed Jesus to be your Chief Cornerstone? Are you building a foundation for others to know Him as such in their lives? I know these are tough questions to answer, and there are many things which might hold you back. The world is a tough place to be. So much hurt, so much anger and unwillingness to listen to anything other than the sound of our own voices…

At Glenn Park, we recently introduced the song, “Cornerstone”, by Hillsong United. It is an anthem which declares Jesus as the cornerstone of our lives no matter what happens to be going on. When speaking of writing the song, Reuben Morgan said the following:

 

I guess a lot of people have been thinking deeply about life over recent years. At times it has felt as though crises have been piling up along the freeway; we barely have time to recover from a crash in the markets when the analysts declare another country’s economy to be in critical condition. We only just have the time to forget the face of the gunman when another chorus of sirens wail. We have barely cleaned up after the flood when an earthquake strikes.

When the earth shakes, we look to our feet and wonder what it is that we are standing on. Can we trust it? Is it strong enough to carry us? Will we be safe enough here?

When things start to fall apart, we wonder whether what we have built our life upon is capable of sustaining us.

 Maybe you know this, maybe you don’t, but the truth about life is that there is only one thing strong enough to hold us. With all the storms and struggles that we face, with the threats and fears that stack up, there is only one thing in which we can put our trust. When we are pushed to our limit – even to the point of death itself – there is only one source of hope, there is only one cornerstone:

Christ alone, Cornerstone Weak made strong in the Savior’s love Through the storm He is Lord Lord of all

 So our song, Cornerstone, found legs and lungs and life in the lives of those who sung it. At times we sing it because we know it to be true – we have sensed the ground shake, we have felt the storms lash our backs – and our faith has held strong. We have not doubted or waivered and we sing with a smile of ‘weak made strong in the father’s love’ and how the ‘anchor holds’.

 But there are times when we are less sure as well. Times when we sing not so much out of absolute conviction but hopeful aspiration. At times like these, when we are more aware of our weakness than our strength, when the storms are present not past, it is OK to sing out of hope rather than certainty. Why? Because as Hebrews 11 reminds us, ‘faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see’ – even when that unseen hope is the ability to trust in God himself.

 We followers of Jesus have such potential. We have such a story ahead of us that I think we would weep to even glimpse it; all those storms, all those struggles, all those trials, and yet beneath them all the sure, steadfast love of God.

 If we can know and trust this cornerstone a little better, can you imagine what God might be able to build upon it?

Do you see Jesus as the Chief Cornerstone of your faith?

 

Are you living your life as a “living stone” in God’s spiritual house? If not, what’s holding you back?

 

I encourage you to seek out and pray to the one whom God has placed as the firm foundation for our lives. Begin to set your feet upon that rock, and watch how God builds you as you stand firm in Christ!

 

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