Iwoke to the soft clink of a metal chisel striking stone—seven seconds between strikes, I slowly realized. Just beyond the walls of the guesthouse where I was staying, a cheerful laborer was up early this Kenyan Sunday morning. The soft volcanic stone he was expertly shaping with a collection of chisels would soon be carried down the hillside to raise yet another structure.
I wandered outside to watch him closely as he squared a dull-red block with practiced ease. He hummed bits of melodies as he worked, tossing laughter and one-liners to his colleagues. One at a time, an hour per stone, the pieces of the new house were taking shape.
I turned, fascinated, to stare at the building in which I had spent the night. Arriving in the darkness, I had paid no attention to the structure, anxious to find my bed after a long trip. But now I saw more clearly: each of the blocks—1,080 of them, as I counted—had also been shaped by the same steady method. Each stone was beautifully finished, and my awe only increased as I noted how closely each was fitted to its neighbor. This house had been built slowly, patiently, with methods no longer seen in my mass-produced, poured-concrete culture.
The apostle Peter’s remarkable metaphor came quickly to mind: “Like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5, NRSV).* The extra, on-site lesson was equally unmistakable: it will take time, and shaping, and accommodation, to be joined to my brothers and sisters as part of a spiritual house that the Lord can inhabit. I can’t insist on maintaining my untouched distinctiveness and yet claim to be part of a bearing wall. To be fitted into a structure that brings glory to God requires me to yield to the neighbor and the member beside me—and to this yielding and this humility the gospel continually calls me.
God’s kingdom is being built—sometimes slowly, always steadily—as we are shaped into living stones by the reviving Spirit of the Lord. Pray just now for the part God is calling you to be in the church that brings Him glory.
* Bible texts credited to NRSV are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. Used by permission.
— Bill Knott