It is Great to Belong
It is great to belong to something. There are Country Clubs, Dinner Clubs, Bridge Clubs, Book Clubs, Men’s Clubs Women’s Clubs, Athletic Clubs, and on and on we could go. We all like to be a part of something, some group, where we feel like we are known and make a difference.
Belonging at Church
Today, let’s think about the fact that we are members of our church. At our church there are lots of places to belong be it Afternoon Guild, LWML, Men’s Club, choir, Weekday Bible Study Groups. We love to come together for special occasions like Christmas, Easter, Advent, Lent. We love to see and talk to others. These people are our friends. We love them. We belong here.
Isolation Makes It Hard
That is what makes this time so hard. We cannot go to church or see each other. We miss each other. We feel isolated and alone at times. We know we belong, but sometimes we wonder if we will ever have the kind of fellowship with each other like we are used to. We may well belong but the joys and pleasures we had with each other seem like a thing of the past. Sometimes we just get angry about it. Sometimes we get so frustrated we don’t think much about God, our faith, or our hope in Him.
Church is Not Just Another Organization
Now let’s be careful here because our church is not just another human organization like some club. Oh, it has a constitution and elected leaders, but in many ways it is so different. For we did not build the church so to speak. God did. Just listen to what God tells us,
“As you come to Him, the 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…” (vv. 4-5)
We Belong to a Spiritual House
Who is this Living Stone? Jesus Christ is the Living Stone. Yes, living! We celebrate that in this Easter Season. Our Savior, Jesus Christ, is alive. He died for us on the cross of Calvary to pay for our sin. He did not stay dead. He rose from death on the third day and lives and reigns forever. He is alive. All who believe in Him are alive, living stones that are built up together. The church is a spiritual house built by God’s own Son who died and rose again for us. We belong to a spiritual house built by God Himself. We are members of that house forever.
God Makes Sure We Belong
But there is more! God makes sure we know we belong. He says,
“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.” (v. 10)
We were caught up in sin. We were cut off from each other and from God because of our sin. We did not even want to belong to God, to be His people. Still, God loved us. Still, God reached out for us not with anger and punishment, but with His own Son. God made us what we are in Jesus Christ. God poured out His mercy on us when Jesus Christ died and rose again for us. He made us His people by His work for us.
You Belong to God’s Kingdom
Still God has more to tell us. He wants to make sure we know we belong to this spiritual house.
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession….” (v. 9).
Wow! God says so. We belong to a spiritual house built by God through Jesus Christ. This house is built with living stones, us, all people that believe in this Jesus who died and rose again for us. You my friends belong to God. He made you His own, a member of His Kingdom, His house, the day you were baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God called you by name that day and He will forever. You belong.
What are We to Do?
As living stones, priests, and kings what are we to do? God has poured out His grace on us in His Son. This is our hope. What do living stones, members of God’s house do? How do we live in this world? God tells us,
“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)
Alive! Not Dead!
What is a spiritual sacrifice? Sometimes it is also called a “living sacrifice” in Scripture. When we think of sacrifices we usually think of dead animals used in the OT. What are living, spiritual sacrifices? A spiritual sacrifice is what living stones do. When they do what God commands, and they do it with faith in their hearts in Jesus Christ, then this is a living, spiritual sacrifice. We are alive in Jesus Christ and when we live for Him we are offering God spiritual sacrifices. Alive not dead!
Paul says it like this,
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Galatians 2:20
God Empowers Our Spiritual Sacrifices
We are living stones. We belong to God. We will be with Him and all our fellow believers forever. That is our hope. Now we live like it. God empowers us as His children by our baptism to offer Him spiritual sacrifices-doing His will in this world with faith in our Savior. Why? Not to earn anything from God but to give thanks to God for what He has done for us.
Simple Things Offered to God
Don’t try to think up some great offering to God. Just live where He has placed you as His child. Your spiritual sacrifices are things like helping your children with on-line homework; calling your elderly neighbor or grandma just to check on them and talk to them so they are not so lonely; if you are able, helping someone with no job put food on his or her table; making a special offering to God at your church to help others, to pay the bills every church has or salary and benefits for your church workers; taking the trash cans to the street for your sick neighbor; comforting your children when all that is going on scares them. Need I go on? Even these simple things are spiritual sacrifices offered to God acceptable to God in Jesus.
Hope Offering Spiritual Sacrifices
We are living stones. We belong by God’s grace in Jesus Christ. We live in hope. We live offering spiritual, living sacrifices to God for all He has done for us. Amen.