My love is impatient. It’s nasty. It is envious of others. I do it so I can boast about it because my love is proud. I show love to dishonour others and make them feel bad for what they haven’t done because love is for my benefit, not others. My love is a tally. One act for another. Unless you annoy me. I don’t show it to rejoice in the truth of Jesus’ salvation for us. No, I do it because I delight in my own self worth. It doesn’t protect, trust, hope or preserve. Because I don’t really love.
We often as Christians get caught up in the moment. Wake up in the morning and just have this sort of Christian routine of tasks to do. Read Christian books, go to Christian events, do Christian favours for our church or other Christian things we are a part of, and pray at the end of the day that we can do it all again tomorrow.
These are all good things. But do we forget the reason for acting the way we do? Sometimes we don’t see the big picture of how our daily lives (and all we do in them) are worshiping our redeemer. And maybe if we understood this, we would do this and more.
Peter describes us as “living stones – rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him.” (1 Peter 2:4-10) But what are these stones for? Do these stones just lie scattered across the landscape? Living independently from each other and each doing its own thing? No. God offers a strategy to us for us to be built together to form a “spiritual house”. In which Jesus is the cornerstone, holding up the whole structure.
But how do all the elements fit together? We are all different shapes. It shouldn’t work. Often we look at ourselves and define us a shape, let’s say a cuboid. So we only really hang out or show love to other cuboids because that’s the only thing we can understand that God could build something with. We forget the cylindrical stones. We think that it’s someone else’s job to look to them to build some other structure that is independent from ours. Because they have different characteristics. They have different jobs. Maybe it’s because they are poor. Because they look different. It’s not my job to work together to build something with them.
Sometimes we are to narrow minded in our approach to what God is building. I’m especially guilty of getting stuck into a routine and forgetting the purpose of what my actions lead to. We build relationships with very particular people. People we like, people we can relate to, people with similar circumstances to us.
I study design, so I love this idea of a spiritual house and relating it to architecture. We, Christians, typically want to build something very straightforward and simple. Arun-of-the-mill standard two-up-two-down detached red brick, seen millions of times before. We can’t really understand anything else. But God’s the perfect contemporary architect. He’s like Frank Ghery on steroids and wants to build a massive, obscure, beautiful, magnificent masterpiece.
Why? Consider this Frank Ghery building above in Bilbao, Spain. Commercially, this changed the face of architecture. People didn’t go to Bilbao before this was built, but now they do – to marvel at the engineering excellence and impressive facade. This is known as the Bilbao effect, and many city councils have tried to replicate this within their own cities (including Glasgow – Zaha Hadid’s Riverside Museum had a similar ambition).
We can do something similar; the ‘spiritual house effect’ maybe. God’s plan is beautiful and people are attracted to it. He wants more of His children to come back into having a relationship with Him. And we as a spiritual house are God’s medium through which to do that.
God has placed us where He has for a very specific reason. The stones adjacent to ourselves are an opportunity for us to build something beautiful. Some of the relationships the world wants to say are weird and shouldn’t work, are the details that make the building so beautiful. If we humble ourselves to God’s masterplan and remember that He wants us to invest in everyone around us and show them real love, we can build something amazing.
So maybe tomorrow when you get up, remember what we are building. Remember that love our cement to do that. Don’t love because that’s just what you do – love because we are building something incredible, and our salvation is the cornerstone; “the stone the builders rejected” (Psalm 118:22). So don’t be timid. Love outrageously, boldly, and with a heart to see something greater come to Glasgow.
Words by Jonny Willis