Back when the Old West was being settled, pioneers flocked across the country to California and Oregon. In one particular spot on the Eastern slopes of the Rockies there was a large, dirt covered rock protruding in the middle of the trail. Wagon wheels were broken on it and men tripped over it. Finally, someone dug up the odd stone and rolled it off trail into a nearby stream. The stream was too wide to jump over, but people used the stone as a step to cross the cold creek. It was used for years, until finally one settler built his cabin near the stream. He moved the odd stone out of the stream and placed it in his cabin to serve as a doorstop.
As years passed, railroads were built and towns sprang up. The old settler’s grandson went East to study geology. On a visit to his grandfather’s cabin, the grandson happened to examine the old lump of stone and discovered within that lump of dirt and rock was the largest pure gold nugget ever discovered on the Eastern slope of the Rockies. It had been there for three generations, and people never recognized its value. To some it was a stumbling stone to be removed. To others it was a stepping-stone, and to others it was just a heavy rock. But only the grandson saw it for what it really was–a lump of pure gold.
This story reminds us of a sentence in Psalm 118:22, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.” Only, in this case it speaks of the coming Messiah. He was the one who was mocked, beaten, spit on and rejected and finally killed, that would rise again to become the cornerstone.
Our relationship with Christ mimics the story of the old rock that turned to gold. Depending on how that relationship has developed, our experience with the rock that has become the cornerstone varies.
To many, Christ has become an annoyance, someone who gets in the way of their freedom. He is someone who makes demands which they themselves find troublesome and limiting. They see Jesus as someone making unreasonable requests to love your enemies and turn the other cheek. To them He is nothing more than a stumbling stone.
To others, Jesus is just a means to an end. They’ll profess their faith in him if its advantageous to them, but if that proclamation of faith causes them to become uncomfortable, their just as likely to renounce Him by what they say and do. To some they give the appearance of faithfulness but to others they appear to be servants of worldliness. To them He is nothing more than a steppingstone.
Still others keep Jesus around because He’s useful. They’ll keep Him on the shelf, but when He can help they’ll go to Him. They depend on Him to be a reliable tool that they can bring out when He is needed but on most occasions they just live their life oblivious to His presence. They don’t talk down to Him, they simply ignore Him until He’s needed. To them He is nothing more than a heavy stone when a heavy stone is useful.
Then there are the faithful few. They are like the Apostle Paul who build upon the rock, using Jesus as the cornerstone to bring strength to the building of our lives. In 1 Corinthians 3:10-11, Paul explains His part saying, “According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:10-11).
Like Paul, we are called to see Jesus Christ as the very foundation of our lives, the cornerstone of our existence. Together, we are to build upon this stone both for the benefit of our ministry and as a benefit for all of God’s ministry on earth, each person given special skills to build upon that stone.
Paul goes on to say in verses 12-15, “Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire” (1 Corinthians 3:12-15).
Take care that you don’t treat Christ as a stumbling stone, a steppingstone or just a useful rock. Come to see Him as the foundation of your life, the cornerstone that brings strength to your faith and stability to your existence. Please pray with me:
Heavenly Father, thank you for giving us your Son to be our Cornerstone. Give us the strength and courage to build upon that rock and help us to see Christ for who He is. Amen.