We hear much today about identity crises, where people question who they are, their values and beliefs, and their role in society.
As believers, we too can struggle with our identity as we live in the “already, but not yet” reality. Although we have been raised up with Christ and are seated with Him in heavenly places, yet while on earth, we still wrestle with the world, the flesh, and the devil; and at times we feel defeated rather than victorious.
Peter, writing to persecuted believers, encourages them by telling them of their identity as a new covenant community. He uses the metaphor of a building to show that, having come to Christ, they have become bricks in a building that is a place of God’s special dwelling.
Adam and Eve experienced God’s special presence in the garden but then lost it when they sinned. Subsequently, God’s special presence was manifested in a place of His own choosing—first the tabernacle and then Solomon’s temple.
Now, Peter says that each believer who comes to Christ by faith is a living stone that is linked to other living stones, which form a building whose foundation is Jesus Christ. Christ, the living cornerstone, sustains each of the individual bricks in the building by His life-giving Spirit; and each living brick is connected to the other living bricks around it to form a dwelling for God’s special presence. This shows us the importance of being part of a local church, where each brick plays its part in supporting the whole. There are no insignificant bricks;
Another privileged identity is that we are not only the temple, but also the priests who serve in the temple: “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” (v.5). This means that we no longer need an earthly priest to offer our sacrifices to God, but we can bring them directly to God and know that they are accepted through Christ, our high priest.
So whether we are in the lion’s den, or a fiery furnace, or a prison cell, or whatever our circumstances in life may be, we have the sure promise of God’s spiritual presence with us; and one day, by His grace, we shall dwell in His full presence- as we depart from this body and are forever with the Lord.