He Is Our Cornerstone
Open Your Bible
Ephesians 2:11-22, Galatians 3:23-29, 6:15, Psalm 118:22, 1 Corinthians 3:16
It’s so tough that we have to live with people.
I mean, we would be so lonely without them, but it’s hard to get along, you know? My family is seven people. Seven mouths to feed, fourteen feet to shoe, one-hundred-forty fingernails and toenails to trim, and a million ideas about the purpose of a Saturday. It’s complicated. Even if you don’t have that many folks under your roof, it’s hard to keep the peace anytime we’re forced to rub shoulders with other imperfect humans.
Even when times are so good, unity can be so hard. I always expected family life, or roommate life, to just feel like a basket of kittens. So why aren’t we all adorably snuggling and saying meow, meow already?
The early church had the same problems with unity that we have today. Paul tries to halt their squabbling by reminding them of this key truth: Christ is the cornerstone. Obviously your house is going to fall down if it’s not built on the cornerstone. Unity is enormously difficult, and the only way to have unity with each other is through Christ.
Because the folks in Ephesus were so busy slapping and kicking each other in the shins over whether or not circumcision is the one true way to salvation, Paul uses metaphors to get their attention and gives them a veritable technicolor slideshow of unity.
Paul actually uses illustrations like this a lot in his letters, to deepen our understanding of our relationship to each other in Christ. Look how many I found with only a quick, cursory search:
Together, in Christ, we are:
- a holy sanctuary (Ephesians 2:21, 1 Corinthians 3:16)
- a body (Ephesians 2:15)
- a city (Ephesians 2:19)
- a family (Ephesians 2:19, Galatians 3:26, 29)
- covered (Galatians 3:27)
- sons, not slaves (Galatians 3:23-26)
- a creation (Galatians 6:15)
Whew! As I noticed that Paul really rolled out the whole barrel of metaphors, I realized this concept of unity in Christ must require more than just passing consideration. It demands real attention to the texture of this truth, like we could comprehend more if we examine it from different angles. Let’s look at three of these pictures of unity together today.
I am most intrigued by the picture of us as family in Christ (Ephesians 2:19). The issue of seamless family connection has always plagued me because I, like many of you, come from a home of divorce. So my family isn’t tidy or shiny; it’s funny and sometimes awkward. But Paul is saying we are “members of the household of God.” We have a rightful place, together, in Him.
I’m also fascinated to think of us as a holy sanctuary (Ephesians 2:21). We are joined together to make a holy temple for the Lord. Together we are a place that is set apart, a place that God loves. It’s amazing.
Finally, we can see our unity in the image of the city (Ephesians 2:19). I really like this one. In a city, everyone does different jobs, but it works because we are pulling together, just like we learned on Sesame Street. Except this unity works because we are in Christ—not because we are motivated by civic duty.
God brought the Jews and the Gentiles together. He’s still doing it today. He’s bringing the Hatfields and the McCoys together. He’s bringing me and my crazy family together. It’s super messy and complicated. Honestly, it’s horribly messy.
Here we are, and God wants us all to be His people. Me, you, and your lunatic uncle. How can we all come together? In Christ. Christ is our cornerstone. We build on Him. He is the only source of unity.
Before you get out your mortar and trowel to start building, remember that unity comes from the Lord, and it is begun and completed by Him. We can’t achieve unity by our good work or our hard work—but He achieves it by His grace!
Lord, bring unity to our families and our communities. Give us the humility to see that our hands aren’t enough to build the Kingdom, but that your hands have already built it. You are our cornerstone, and “in you we are made one” (John 17:22).