Each stone was perfect to the point that it became obvious to those who are familiar with such construction, it was a façade. Nevertheless, it was beautiful and caught our attention the moment we entered the building.
We had arrived in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, to celebrate with the congregation at Grace Bible Chapel the dedication of their new church complex. Its design was just the way it should be built in that part of the country. The Narthex was log-faced and the fireplace had the natural look of stone around it creating an aura of warmth. It was a perfect atmosphere and generated an ideal feeling for one’s arrival in the middle of winter.
Entering the Sanctuary, we observed again the stonework that was done by two of the men who were just children when we left our pastoral duties there 28 years ago. As we continued to admire it, my brain slid into gear about a very practical truth to which I had been suddenly introduced, “living stones”.
Turning to face the congregation, everything began to fit into place. While this new building was attractive and accommodating, the real church was seated in front of me, living stones that had been rescued from sin and were being shaped into the likeness of Jesus day by day. They, nor I, are perfect; we attend fellowship within the framework of a church so that we may grow more like our Savior; we study His Word to effect this change. Someone said: “The church is not a place for the display of eminent people, but a school-house for the training of the imperfect.”
Peter had used the words “living stones” in his First Epistle, second chapter and fourth and fifth verses. There he spoke of Jesus as the “living stone” and we, as “living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” While we had come to dedicate facilities for worshipping and building people spiritually, I was looking on the faces of people who had long ago “dedicated” this building to the Lord. Eight years from when they started the planning, cutting lumber and on through the construction, they had endlessly pooled their efforts, finances and, most importantly, their prayers. They had “dedicated” themselves with resolve; former pastors and wives and we were there to celebrate with them.
The decorative stone was pretty, but Patsy and I enjoyed a week with “living stones” that shared many fond memories of God having begun and continued a good work in their lives.