In his book “A Gentle Thunder” Max Lucado tells the story of Karen Hill who is an Administrate Assistant in Austin, Texas. Karen underwent surgery in a local hospital and when she awoke in the recovery room, she could hear the moaning of a fellow patient. She could hear a sympathetic nurse trying to comfort him.
“Settle down, Tom,” she said.” But still he moaned. “It’s all right, Tom. Just go with the pain.”
The man was quiet for a few moments, but began groaning again. “It’s okay, Tom. You’ll be fine.” Finally the patient spoke.
With a low, painful voice, he said, “My name is not Tom!”
There was a moment of silence as the nurse picked up his chart. Then she said, “It’s alright, Harry; it’s all right.”
This story reminds us of the importance of people. Of being known. Understood. Acknowledged. Valued. And correctly identified.
People are important to God. Especially His people. In fact, to emphasize how much He esteems us, the Bible uses different names, metaphors and descriptions that speak to our relationship and value to Him.
In this text, Peter uses three different and distinct analogies that affirm God’s affinity for His people.
#1 We are Children in God’s Family (vs. 1-3).
Like “new born babes” God provides nourishment for us through His Word. The milk of His Word is pure. Unadulterated. And undefiled. It will strengthen us against the defilements an evil world.
Like any parent who desires the best for His children, and seeks their protection from harmful influences, God doesn’t want His children to contaminate their lives with “deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander.”
God is a good and gracious Father. He desires for us satiate our souls with a taste of spiritual food that will help us grow.
#2 We are Stones in God’s Temple. (vs. 4-8).
From the days of Solomon the temple was a special place to the Jewish people. It represented God’s presence. It was a place where humanity could connect with Divinity. It was a sanctified, set apart and holy place.
In the same way, we are the “lively stones” that comprise God’s Temple today. We are His “spiritual house.” And just as each stone is important in the structure of the building, so each person in God’s temple is needed.
It should not be lost on us that this relationship is one in which we come enjoy communion with God. It’s a special, unique and hallowed relationship. Paul put it this way.
“Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are” (1 Cor. 3:16).
It’s worth noting that Peter didn’t take credit for being the rock on which the temple was built. Jesus Christ is the chief cornerstone. We are connected to and built on and around Him. No wonder Peter spoke of this relationship as “precious.”
#3 We are Priests of God’s Priesthood. (Vs. 9-10).
Peter now switches metaphors from the building to the priests who served and offered sacrifices in the building. In the Old Testament only those from the tribe of Levi could be priests. But, today, there is not a separate priesthood in the church. There’s no clergy-laity distinction. All Christians are priests.
We are called a “royal priesthood.” We enjoy direct access to God, as we bring our spiritual offerings to Him.
We are a “chosen generation.” Just like God chose Israel, not because of their greatness, but based on His love, He also has chosen us.
We are a “holy nation.” We’re citizens in God’s Kingdom. And our citizenship is in heaven (Phil. 3:20).
We are a “people for God’s own possession.” What a high honor and distinct privilege of being God’s “own special people.” Of course, we didn’t earn that right. It’s because of His mercy toward us.
So, the next time, you feel alone, forgotten and unknown, remember this–God knows your name. You belong to Him. And you are special to Him.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman