Read His Words Before Ours!
For over a decade, I was a raging legalist, complete with judgmental heart and nose turned up in the air. I grieve over the condition of my heart and my harsh view of others during this season, but I praise the Lord for the testimony I now have, by His grace, of just how much He truly can change a person’s heart and life.
Why do I specifically share this as we walk through the season of Advent?
Well, there are two common ways of perceiving Christ:
either as the Cornerstone He truly is,
or as the stumbling stone the enemy wants Him to be.
As we Journey Into Advent, our minds turn to the purpose of Christ’s first coming. We ponder the Old Testament prophecies concerning a coming Messiah, and we meditate on how those prophecies were fulfilled in the God-man, Christ Jesus.
While these Advent musings, perused in front of a roaring fire or twinkling Christmas tree, may feel rather warm and cozy, some of them hit harder and a little closer to home the more we dive into them. Take, for example, Christ’s purpose of being Chief Cornerstone.
We first hear this description in the Old Testament in passages such as Isaiah 28:16,
“Therefore the Lord God said, ‘Look, I have laid a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; the one who believes will be unshakable.’”
Jesus is to be the Chief Cornerstone in our lives,
our firm foundation,
the One we rely on and hope in,
the One in Whom we find our salvation, rest, and peace.
Salvation – and our heart-felt gratitude for it! – then inspires us to live a life of obedience, in a right relationship with God. At peace with God, we experience His presence as the Cornerstone, a firm foundation to build upon as we journey through this life.
But what if we don’t joyfully rest in salvation and wholeheartedly pursue obedience?
Then, we often fall into one of two other camps.
The first is residence for those who are willfully disobedient. If we are living in willful disobedience, Christ then becomes a stumbling stone in our lives, something we get tripped up on as we experience ongoing guilt over sin.
Isaiah 8:14 explains, “He will be a sanctuary; but for the two houses of Israel, He will be a stone to stumble over and a rock to trip over, and a trap to snare the inhabitants of Jerusalem.”
We see this confirmed in 1 Peter 2:4-8 following the first Advent (coming) of Christ,
“As you come to Him, a living stone–rejected by people but chosen and honored by God–you yourselves, as living stones, a spiritual house, are being built to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture:
See, I lay a stone in Zion,
a chosen and honored Cornerstone,
and the one who believes in Him will never be put to shame.
So honor will come to you who believe, but for the unbelieving,
The stone that the builders rejected–
this one has become the cornerstone,
A stone to stumble over,
and a rock to trip over.”
The second group of people who experience Jesus as a stumbling block rather than a cornerstone are the legalists (this is where my experience comes in!). We read throughout the four gospels of the Pharisees who were self-righteous, hypocritical religious leaders constantly stumbling over Christ’s teachings. He didn’t fit their mold; He challenged their legalistic, man-made rules (an example of this can be found in Matthew 12:9-14).
If we are in either camp, it is incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to experience Christ as He is meant to be experienced – as our Chief Cornerstone, our sanctuary, our place of hope, rest, peace, and sanctification.
If we find ourselves experiencing Christ as a stumbling block (or know someone who is!) I urge us to examine our hearts with honesty and humility. Let’s commit to asking Jesus to reveal the heart issue at the root of our stumbling, and to be consistent in praying for ourselves and others. Let’s ask the Lord to work in our hearts if we need to be drawn out of sinful living or legalism. Let’s ask Him to use us in the lives of others who are stumbling still, to share how Jesus is our Cornerstone and desires to be theirs as well.
Beauty can be found here, for Christ does not need to remain a stumbling block in our lives or anyone else’s! He longs to be our Cornerstone, our Rock of Defense, and our Immoveable Anchor. As we continue to Journey Into Advent, let’s invite Him to be our Chief Cornerstone!
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!