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The metaphors pile up as Peter works to provide insight into the character and role of Christian communities and their members. The people of God are pictured as stones, as building blocks in a spiritual house (2:5). They are, moreover, “God’s chosen and special people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation” (2:9).
All these images of divine belonging are grounded in the experience of Jesus Christ, himself “a living stone” who though precious, was rejected, and who nonetheless became the cornerstone of a great building.
This passage is full of the triumph of the underdog. The very presence of the Church in a hostile setting is an affront to those who deny its value; those who reject it are spiritually blind, destined to stumble and fall. Christians, on the other hand, are special in God’s sight – chosen, elected, set apart with a mission to “proclaim the mighty acts” of God.
The early Christian community did a good job fostering a sense of belonging. They were separate from the dominant culture, and often it cost them. But the Christian community provided significant benefits as well. It baptized them into a special group. It saturated their lives with purpose and meaning. It gave them a role, a holy vocation, and a profound sense of destiny.
They knew they were special to God; that their commitments placed them in good standing; that persecution made them eligible for mercy, the kind of mercy they were not receiving in their lives except when they were together.
Christian togetherness is not intended to produce a prideful elite; rather it is a sanctuary to prepare for loving engagement with neighbours, authorities, and others who may well reject what they are being offered. The Christian vocation is built, anchored and secured on the foundation of God’s redeeming mercy (2:10).
O God, I long to belong in the centre of your redeeming mercy. I do not relish everything it might cost me, but I desire to do what is right according to your word. Keep me from pride. Keep me present to my neighbours. Keep me grounded in your good will. For Jesus’ sake, Amen.