Jesus Rocks! Haha.. got your attention, didn’t I? No, I’m not talking about Him being a Rock star, but I could! I’m talking about Bible references to rocks, stones, blocks.. It’s Sunday, I’m not cooking today, and I wanted to just take a bit of time to journal some thoughts I’ve been having about rocks, stones – stumbling blocks.
I’m a rock collector. Not a serious one, but I’ve been known to take rocks & stones from beaches I’ve visited. I like rocks. I have a set of 5 really white ones from Northern Bruce Peninsula that sit in a formation in my front garden, and a big pitted limestone rock in my veggie garden from the lake where my family had a cottage when I was growing up. Stones from 3 different Maritime Provinces that line part of a garden, and a whole jar of stones from lakes, rivers, paths we’ve walked on.
I’m also drawn to taking photos of rocks, and rock formations. This of course is a lot more environmentally friendly (leave the rocks, take a photo)
In the scriptures, God uses stones and rocks quite often in analogies.
We know that (Eph 2: 19-22) we are not alone (strangers or aliens) in our Faith.. but that Christ is the Cornerstone (or capstone) and we are fellow “citizens with God’s people, members of His household, built on the foundation of the apostles, prophets, with Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. I find that very comforting.. that I don’t have to build my faith from scratch; for the church (family of God) that I’m a part of, surrounded by other stones, bricks (family members in Christ) who are with me, we are built on the foundation of the apostles, prophets (the scriptures) with Christ as our cornerstone. Being the daughter of a builder, and working in the construction industry, I understand this analogy well. If you don’t lay the foundation right, everything after will be off kilter. Your drywall will crack, windows can break. It’s vital to lay a firm foundation.
Many times throughout the bible the term “stumbling block” is used. Have you ever tripped over a stone? Fell, bruised, scraped up, gotten hurt, aching body, broken bones? The next several days, (or weeks/months) depending on how bad the fall was, that pain is always with you, and affects everything about your day.
Imagine, you’re walking along at a good pace, enjoying the views, taking in the fresh air, getting to where you want to go – on time, with purpose.. and BOOM.. there’s a stone, maybe just a small tiny loose one that makes your ankle turn.. maybe a big one that’s slippery. And suddenly you fall, and everything changes. Your entire view is changed. Maybe you’re eating dirt. Maybe you’re seeing stars. Maybe you got knocked right out.
I walked on this rocky beach near Tobermorey, Ontario several years ago, and twisted my ankle quite badly, resulting in a bad limp, sore & aching for several days.
I see the term “stumbling block” used in 2 different ways in the Bible. But I want to focus on the way it’s used as a warning to those of us who are Believers.. to ‘[not be a stumbling block]’, or put one in front of others.
During this time we’re in right now when the world is reeling in fear and grief due to the Covid-19 pandemic, how can we as brothers & sisters in Christ point people to the Chief Cornerstone (Jesus Christ) and do our utmost best to ‘not be a stumbling block?’
Are we focusing on our fear, pain, unemployment, the food chain supply, the economy, world leaders, the news, our social media feeds?
What is on our mind?
Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
What is on MY mind? The concerns of God, what He’s doing, how I can be a part of it, or am I focusing only on my own needs/wants/fears? (“Do I have enough toilet paper? What about my GIC’s? I need a hair cut, maybe I can talk my hairdresser into taking me in at her house.. nobody will know… Oh no, Home Depot is shutting down.. and I wanted to take this time to paint the kitchen. Hey, my Ipad’s not working, I’m going to take it to my neighbour next door (who is safely social distancing, and I miss), he can fix it for me.. ” )
Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.
Bill and I went for a walk around our block the other day, and I found myself “passing judgment” on others as I went.. a group of people having a backyard bbq (“are they practicing social distancing?? They just don’t care! When will people take this seriously??”) a couple of moms with 8 kids on bikes in a parking lot having a great time outside in the sunshine.. (“they can’t possibly be all from one household, that’s against the law!”)
I read this scripture this morning.. and felt convicted immediately. I passed judgement. I need to look inward… How can **I** make up my mind to not put an obstacle in other’s ways?
Ie.. my lack of forgiveness, my laziness, my attitude, my need to be right & have my needs heard in every circumstance.. is that a stumbling block to others, that hides Christ, instead of pointing to Him?
Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak.
Paul in 1st Corinthians 8 talks about our freedom in Christ – and how exercising that freedom in front of others who are “weak” can be a stumbling block. In this passage he’s talking about eating meat sacrificed to idols. That was a HUGE ‘no-no’ back in the day for the Jewish people. But for the Believers who knew that there is only ONE God, and that the idols were merely stone, plaster, metal, and with that knowledge knew that the meat is just meat.. not an offering.. it was ok for them to eat…
BUT… if they ate that meat in view of other’s who don’t have the knowledge of our one God.. it could be a stumbling block – so it would be better not to, even though it was ok for them… just so they didn’t cause others to sin.
ie: (is she an idol worshipper eating sacrificial meat? If SHE can eat meat, than so can I!) in today’s world, some Christians apply this scripture to alcohol. (he’s having a beer in a bar with other believers! Then it’s ok for me to drink.. get drunk even! Party ON!)
For all I know – the neighbours having the backyard BBQ felt they had freedom, maybe they were all one household (it was a pretty big house) and they were practicing all the laws of social distancing and taking every precaution.. yet I judged.
For those of us who are in ministry, this command to not be a stumbling block, is even more important.
2 Corinthians 6:3
We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited.
We are warned in Matthew 18:6 by Jesus himself, to not to let the little ones stumble (to sin)
“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”
Wow.. that’s pretty intense.
So here’s a few questions for us.
Are you making your little ones stumble by your example, or are you teaching them how to give/serve/love Jesus/others. We have such a great opportunity during this time of global pandemic to be examples to the little ones, whether young by faith or by their chronological age.
How are we living our Faith, loving others? Are we following the law of our governments and being examples? Praying for our leaders or cursing them? Are we practicing social distancing or are we breaking law? Are we hoarding, or sharing? Are we taking for ourselves, or are we giving? Are we sharing Christ, or are we keeping Him to ourselves? Are we bemoaning all the things we are missing and complaining, or are we Praising God? Are we taking our fears to God in prayer and laying them at His feet, or are we holding on to our fears, lying awake at night, stuffing them down with food or entertainment.
Are you making your brother stumble? (can you cut my hair? Will you fix my ipad? Let’s have tea together.. we’re less than 5 people, come on, don’t be a party pooper!)
Church… Let’s be a Rock – not a stumbling block, Be a Peter. He fumbled, failed, sinned, but he became the rock of the church… and not even the gates of Hell will overcome it.
And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.
“Cornerstone” lyrics – Hillsong
written by Edward Mote, Eric Liljero, Jonas Myrin, Reuben Morgan