Solid Rocks and Crumbly Rocks

In the ancient world, cornerstones were the ultimate load-bearing stones. Builders started with the cornerstone. Builders laid out the entire structure using the cornerstone as a reference point for all of their measuring and leveling. Frequently the cornerstones were boulders that the builders could not move, so they squared them up and built on them. The boulder was in the way, so that boulder became the way to build something lasting. Their theory was that if the cornerstone couldn’t be moved then neither could the building, because the building had been constructed on and into and around that cornerstone.

In the Hebrew Scriptures and in the New Testament, Biblical writers identified God in Christ as The Cornerstone. Consider these passages.

  • You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on You. I will trust in You, Lord, always – for You, Lord God, are my eternal Rock – strong, stable, trustworthy, and lasting. (Isaiah 26:3-4)
  • But the Master, God, has something to say…“Watch closely. I’m laying a foundation in Zion, a solid granite foundation, a precious cornerstone, tested and squared and true. And this is the meaning of the stone: a trusting life won’t topple.” Isaiah 28:16 (New Revised Standard Version and The Message)
  • So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family. Together, we are God’s house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus Himself. We are carefully joined together in Christ, becoming a holy temple for the Lord. Through Christ you Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by God’s Spirit. (Ephesians 2:19-22)

What does it mean that God in Christ is our Cornerstone?

  • Jesus is our absolute, constant, indispensable, solid, immovable, strong, reliable, stable, trustworthy, secure, foundational Rock.
  • We build our individual lives ON relationship with Jesus and INTO relationship with Jesus and AROUND relationship with Jesus.
  • Jesus is our starting point and our reference point for everything.
  • Relationship with Jesus provides perspective about everything.
  • We measure everything from our relationship with Jesus.
  • Jesus supports our lives better than anybody or anything else.
  • The church builds its life ON relationship with Jesus and INTO relationship with Jesus and AROUND relationship with Jesus.
  • When we are joined together in relationship with Jesus, Jesus joins us to each other.
  • Jesus holds us together like ancient cornerstones held entire structures together.
  • When we are built on relationship with Jesus we cannot topple because Jesus does not topple.
  • We BASE our lives on relationship with Jesus.

In the 21st century construction industry, cornerstones are not what they used to be. Cornerstones have become ornamental or ceremonial. Cornerstones are inscribed with the name and date of the building, but that’s as far as the influence goes. Cornerstones are no longer load bearing.

“Ornamental” and “ceremonial” are adjectives that accurately describe much of what passes for Christianity these days. And yes, I hated typing that sentence.

What does life look like when relationship with Jesus is merely ornamental or ceremonial – part of our lives but not foundational? What does church look like when relationship with Jesus is merely ornamental or ceremonial – part of our life together but not foundational?

What does LIFE look like when Jesus is our Cornerstone?

What does CHURCH look like when Jesus is our Cornerstone?

As long as we are thinking about rocks – what “rocks” have crumbled beneath you? Examples of crumbling rocks include relationships, expectations, career, approval, fantasies, paradigms, self-worth, dreams, bad religion, health, ambitions, happiness, finances, goals, perspectives, systems, pedestalized leaders, assumptions, beliefs – anything we base our lives on instead of Jesus or anybody we base our lives on instead of Jesus.

What happens when those “rocks” crumble?

I’ve officiated many funerals alongside grieving people who referred to their deceased loved on as “my rock.” My wife is like a rock to me. I have no idea what I would do without Carla. I firmly believe God wants us to be in relationship with people who are so reliable and so solid that we can count on them. When death claims those people, it is devastating. God understands the intensity of that grief. In the previous paragraph, I wasn’t referring to rock-like people God places in our lives. I was referring more to Rock substitutes – people or places or things we stand on instead of Jesus.

I’ll use another example from my own life. As a recovering people pleaser, only recently have I grasped how thoroughly I was basing my life on people’s approval. That “rock’ has crumbled beneath me many times over the years, but the crumbling has not stopped me from counting on people’s approval all over again. In my people-pleasing, I am like Charlie Brown running toward the football Lucy is holding for me to kick, but Lucy has earnestly promised that this time she won’t jerk the football back at the precise moment I am beyond the point of no return in my kicking motion (like she has every other time)….

Splat.

Good grief.

I am finally getting tired of being Charlie Brown.

On whom or on what are you basing and building your life?

Grace and peace,

Rick Jordan (www.rickcarlajordan.com, rickjordankcmo@gmail.com)

 

“Too Much in Touch with Our Feelings?” (Psalm 61:1-2)

My dad is tough, by anybody’s standards. In 1967, when he was working construction glass in South Carolina, he fell off of a building and landed on his back on a steel beam. Surgeons put him back together, and he didn’t even miss that much work.

Dad is 86 now, and still old-school tough. However, a couple of years ago he met his pain management match. Dad had shingles. He said it felt like all of his nerve endings relocated outside his skin. Air was excruciating, and everything beyond air was worse.

People don’t have shingles. Shingles have them.

It is possible for us to have emotional shingles, where instead of us having feelings, feelings have us. It’s like our emotions relocate outside us, and we over-feel everything. It’s all TOO BIG.

A few evenings ago, Carla and I were listening to a teaching by Brian Johnson from Bethel Church. He was talking about how he’s not characteristically a man in touch with his feelings, and as almost a throwaway line he said, “Some of you are way too much in touch with your feelings.” He’s right. Emotional oversensitivity is prevalent in our culture today. We can be so massively in touch with our feelings that our emotions take on more credibility than their pay grade. We become led by our feelings. We think and we decide with our feelings.

King David (somebody who was sometimes morbidly in touch with his feelings), wrote this Psalm. “Hear my cry, O God. Pay attention to my prayer. From the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me up onto the rock that is higher than I.” (Psalm 61 Evangelical Heritage Version)

Our hearts can be legitimately overwhelmed by the extremely hard knocks of this life. But our hearts can also be overwhelmed because we self-load our hearts by being way too much in touch with our feelings. Our overactive emotions can convince us we are at the end of the earth, or at the end of our wits, or at the end of our rope, or at the end of our options.

Notice what David asks from God. “Lead me onto the rock that is higher than I.” If you study the Biblical imagery of God as our Rock, you discover that God promises to be our secure relational place of stability, a place that is higher and more solid than our anger, anxiety, loneliness, sadness, etc. When we are trusting ON God like this, God has a way of placing us ON a new and much better perspective than the hyperventilating perspective our charged up emotions give us.

I offer you this prayer. “God in Christ, please cause me to be far more in touch with You than I am with my feelings, because when I am deeply in touch with You, then I can let You be in touch with my feelings and even in charge of my feelings. Thank You for hearing my cry, for paying attention to my prayer. Thank You for knowing where I am when I am emotionally at the end, for meeting me in that remote place, for pulling me up, and for guiding me back. Thank You for taking my overwhelmed heart seriously and for leading me to the Rock that is higher than I am. On Christ the solid Rock I stand. Amen.”

Grace and peace,

Rick Jordan (www.rickcarlajordan.com)