1Peter 2: 4-10
Good morning friends. Well here we are, gazing individually at our personalized computer screens, while absorbing the wonder and the mystery of Peter’s description of our collective identity.
Identity is essential for human growth and wellbeing. Understanding who we are, where we have come from, what is important to us, and what we are here to do, provides us with meaning and direction every day of our lives. The absence or collapse of identity is said to provoke ‘identity crisis,’ a traumatic state of destabilization and disorientation.
How does Peter understand identity?
Peter describes us as a collective, who together create a living building. It is together that we are the dwelling place of God.
We have a history. Peter’s words draw from the deep well of the Hebrew scriptures. Who we are together in God is part of His working from ancient times. Together, we are chosen and holy. Together we proclaim the wonder, might and the marvelous light of God. Together we honour, worship and serve God.
And at the centre of Peter’s understanding of our identity is the person of Jesus, our cornerstone. The centerpiece, the core, the crux of who we are together is the unshakable, chosen and precious Jesus. He holds us together, while ironically the truth of his very presence can cause the false and the disobedient to fall apart.
We live in troubling days, when institutions including the church have let us down badly, and those who seek to exert power deliberately cast doubt on institutions and denigrate them. Sometimes our identity as a ‘spiritual house’ feels besmirched and degraded. More than ever we need to remember the truth of our precious cornerstone who cannot be shaken, even as any false walls of the church must fall.
Let Peter’s call to humility keep us steady in our identity:
“Once you were not a people,
but now you are God’s people;
Once you had not received mercy,
but now you have received mercy.”
We belong to the living stone who was rejected by people, yet loved and chosen by God. We have been given an identity as the people of God, through His mercy and love.
Fellow living stones, it is a privilege to share my identity with you.