A Holy People
Open Your Bible
1 Peter 2:1-10, Psalm 34:1-14, Hebrews 13:14-16
Haley and I sat down at a picnic table. Her four young children ran to the playground.
“So what do you want to know?” she asked. I took in a deep breath and looked at my notes. Where to begin?
Earlier that year, I’d begun interviewing female veterans as research for a novel. Tall and blonde with striking blue eyes, Haley was dressed in casual jeans and a tee-shirt. You would never guess that just a few years ago, she had been deployed to Afghanistan, leading an engineering platoon.
While they were deployed, she told me, her platoon built outposts for incoming NATO troops. Every few weeks, she and a group of 20 soldiers would travel to a remote location in the desert, where they’d construct wood platforms, assemble huge Army-green tents, and dig a trench as a temporary latrine. While they worked, an infantry unit provided security around the perimeter. They had to build quickly; the opposition was everywhere.
The image of Haley holding a hammer in the middle of enemy territory comes to mind as I read today’s passage. After all, Jesus calls us to begin constructing the kingdom of God here on earth—even though we will face resistance.
Peter wrote his letters to a specific population of Christians who lived just before Roman Emperor Nero’s brutal persecution of the church, which began in 64 A.D. At the time, Christians experienced slander, ridicule, and discrimination from their neighbors. They were facing opposition on all sides, and Peter knew that the pressure was only going to get worse.
But in the midst of a dire situation, there was hope. Peter leans on a construction metaphor, explaining that they were being built up, like “living stones” into a spiritual house (v.5). And the resistance? The rejection? The reviling? None of that would come as a surprise to Jesus. He warned His followers that they would face persecution, opposition, and even open hatred (John 16:33). He knew they would face these things, because when you build a new kingdom in the middle of enemy territory, the enemy takes aim.
At the heart of this passage is a call to keep building—even if we’re afraid, even if it’s hard. (Perhaps especially if it’s hard.) I am a builder in the midst of enemy territory. So are you. There might be differences among us—race, age, nationality, background—and yet, our shared identity as Christ-followers gives us the freedom to stand side-by-side, raising our hammers together, participating in the construction of the kingdom of God.
When the hammer gets heavy, 1 Peter 2:10 stands as a reminder: “Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” And Jesus? He is our cornerstone, the first piece of the foundation and the rock upon which the whole structure rests. Without Him, it would all fall apart.
Keep building the spiritual house in the midst of this world. Do not grow weary. It may seem futile at times, but all our building is not in vain. With Jesus as our cornerstone, we are the beginnings of a city that will endure forever.