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.For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” (1 Peter 2:4–6)
Today, a cornerstone is typically a large slab of concrete placed at a prominent corner or place around the outside of a building with important information inscribed into it, like the date it was finished. Historically, though, the cornerstone has been the first stone laid, the stone on which every other stone is built. It was the most important stone in the most important place of a massive structure of stones. Small flaws or errors in the cornerstone or the placing of the cornerstone would affect the whole building. It had to be perfect, reliable, strong, and sure.
The Rock Under Our Worship
Peter uses this imagery of stones and buildings to talk about our relationship to Christ. Each follower of Christ, each of child of God, is their own stone — a living stone — and they have been formed, shaped, prepared, and filled with life in order to be a small, but important part of a house for God, a place of worship to our God. And at the very foundation, at the most important position, there’s a stone greater than all the others, a stone stronger than all the others, a stone on which all the others rest — a Cornerstone. His name is Jesus Christ.
It’s much easier in some ways to fit Jesus in one room of our house or to find a place for him in a random wall. When most of us first meet Jesus, we don’t want to make him the cornerstone. He’s asking too much of us there. As the cornerstone, he’ll change our priorities and habits and decision-making. He’ll change us. But the only sure bedrock of the Christian’s life and worship is the broken body of our Savior. If we want to know God and experience full and lasting life, everything must be surrendered to him and built on him.
Two Foundations, Two Destinies
Jesus, the cornerstone himself, used similar imagery when he compared two builders (Matthew 7:24–27). One man built his house on the strength and stability of a rock. Storms came with heavy winds and pounded on the little structure, but it did not move. It held secure. It proved to be a safe place, even when violent weather came crashing against it.
A second man, Jesus continued, built his house on sand — loose, light, soft, ever-changing. Again, the winds and the rain fell on the house, but this time they destroyed the little home. There was nothing under the structure that could withstand that kind of pressure and force. The house was helpless, and so it was leveled by the storm.
Jesus painted these two pictures to describe two kinds of people, those who build their hopes and choices and lives on him, and everyone else. “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matthew 7:24). The rock under the first house is Jesus and everything he said. The sand under the ruins of the second house is anything else that tries to claim the position of first place in our hearts, anything that tries to be the cornerstone of our lives.
A Building for God, Built on God
Jesus’s story is a call to him, to the Cornerstone. Do not build your lives on or around what will not last, what will ultimately fail you. Find your ultimate purpose, your source of strength, and your fullest satisfaction in Christ, and build your life on the rock of his sufficient sacrifice and steadfast love. You don’t have to find the strength you need for today within yourself. You won’t find it there. No, the weak are made strong in the Savior’s love and nowhere else.
Amazingly the sovereign and saving God has taken little, weak, unworthy us and built us into a joy-filled, living place of worship where we get to say together that he is worthy. And at the very corner of the foundation of that place of worship he has placed one who can cleanse us from all our sin and carry us through every storm.
Build your life on this Cornerstone, and let him be the anchor of your soul.