Friday, March 31, 2006

Loving Each Stone

The title of my blog, "Love Each Stone", comes from the Contemporary English Version’s rendering of Psalm 102.14: "We, your servants, love each stone in the city, and we are sad to see them lying in the dirt." The context, from a New Testament-enlightened point of view, appears to be world missions…

Our Lord, the nations will honor you, and all the kings of the earth will praise your glory. You will rebuild the city of Zion. Your glory will be seen, and the prayers of the homeless will be answered. Future generations must also praise the Lord, so write this for them: 'From his holy temple, the Lord looked down at the earth. He listened to the groans of the prisoners, and he rescued everyone who was doomed to die.' All Jerusalem should praise you, our Lord, when people from every nation meet to worship you (vv. 15-22).

The "building" motif comes into play repeatedly throughout Scripture. Sometimes it is a wall that is being built (as in the case of Nehemiah), sometimes a temple (Ephesians 2.19-22 & 1 Peter 2.4-8), and sometimes (as in this passage in Psalm 102), the entire holy city of Zion. Theologians have different opinions as to how much of this applies to the Church, the Body of Christ, and how much to an even broader Kingdom of God. Differing eschatological views also determine whether we are talking about gradual transformation of earthly social structures, or transformation of the lives of individuals in the context of a Church called apart to radical obedience along the narrow path of non-conformance until the Millennial reign of Christ, and the sudden introduction of a completely new social structure.

I personally see our "end-vision", at least on this side of the Millennium, to be that described by Paul in Ephesians 4.11-16…

Christ chose some of us to be apostles, prophets, missionaries, pastors and teachers, so that his people would learn to serve and his body would grow strong. This will continue until we are united by our faith and by our understanding of the Son of God. Then we will be mature, just as Christ is, and we will be completely like him. We must stop acting like children. We must not let deceitful people trick us by their false teachings, which are like winds that toss us around from place to place. Love should always make us tell the truth. Then we will grow in every way and be more like Christ, the head of the body. Christ holds it together and makes all of its parts work perfectly, as it grows and becomes strong because of love.

As we are working towards this goal, there are millions of individual "living stones" (1 Peter 2.5) which are, as it were, "lying in the dirt" (Psalm 102.14). The master plan of "rebuilding spiritual Zion", is made up of the combined efforts of God’s servants, down through history, from every nation and culture, as well as every denomination and Christian tradition, to "love each stone", to see to it that each and every one who has been called to inherit eternal life is "picked up from the dirt", "dusted off and polished", and "helped to find their special place in the wall", fulfilling the ministry God has given to each one.

In Nehemiah chapter 3, it is interesting to note that each clan and family had their own section of the wall on which they were working. However, no one was working on their own separate wall. The lesson for us is clear: No individual group of believers has a monopoly on the rebuilding of spiritual Zion. It is only as each of us does the part assigned to us that the work will be finished according to the master plan of the Master Architect, in the way He designed it to be.

It is because of this, I believe, that it is so important to have clear that the Great Commission is given to the entire Body of Christ, not just one part of it.


Kiki Cherry said...


I love the book of Nehemiah, so your theme "Love Each Stone" has really intrigued me.

I'm glad that you have been elaborating on it recently.

There is one part, though I don't understand. What do you mean by "see to it that each and every one who has been called to inherit eternal life is "picked up from the dirt"?

I understand that you are referring to salvation. But don't fully understand the "called to inherit eternal life" coupled with the need to be "picked up from the dirt."

Would you mind elaborating on that a little more?

David Rogers said...


Thanks for the question.

First off, if your question has to do with my take on "Calvinism", I'm not sure where those who really make a big deal about all of the 5 points, etc., would classify my beliefs. I'm not real dogmatic one way or another, and prefer to deal with the practical implications. It seems to me biblically that there are two realities, apparently contradictory to our human minds, which exist side by side, or, as it were in two different realms (kind of like Narnia): divine sovereignty and human responsibility or even "free will" (provided you understand that is just one side of the picture).

As far as "picked up from the dirt", it is a simple allusion to the phrase in Psalm 102.14, that God's servants are sad to see the stones of Zion "lying in the dirt." In Nehemiah, as well, you will remember the allusion to the "piles of rubble" (4.2,10). And then you have the reference in 1 Peter 2.7 about the "cornerstone" that was "tossed aside", and I see something of our identification with Jesus.

All in all, a pretty vivid picture of the grace of God that reaches down to redeem us, and rescue us from our sin, and the consequences of our sin. I also see a secondary allusion to Christians whose gifts are not being put to good use.


Kiki Cherry said...

Thanks! I really, really like your illustration here. Do you mind if we use it in our ministry?

As far as the whole Calvinism/sovreignty/free will issue.....Doug and I have come to a place where we agree with A.W. Tozer. We just look to God and say, "Oh Lord, Thou knowest." Then we get back to what we clearly understand that He has called us to.

There are too many lost people in our world to do otherwise.

We have built our ministry around many of the principles in Nehemiah. Sword in one hand, tool in the other. Family groups working, supporting, defending each other, while the officers stand behind them to watch over them, encourage and support.

We have at times asked, "can we revive these heaps of rubble, burned as they are?" Our campus is so dark (last night the school sponsored another campus-wide porn movie. And like we often do, all the Christian groups on campus came together to provide an alternative and pray for our campus. (Last night the Muslim group also joined us, which was really interesting. We have had several visiting our group from time to time).

But sometimes it gets overwhelming, and ocassionally we wonder if we are fighting a losing battle.

I just really like the way you have developed this concept, though. Do you mind if we use it? And do you have it consolidated in a written form that we could get a copy of?

Our small groups just keep growing and multiplying. One is totally comprised of non-believers, and each of our small groups now contains seekers or students who just received Christ. So we're thinking it might be "go" time on starting the campus church. Plus we have all these new Christians who need to be baptized. We don't want them to have to wait too long.

This would be a great foundation for the church plant,and we had considered teaching through Nehemiah in large group anyway.

Thank you for taking the time to share all this with me.

David Rogers said...


Thanks for your kind words. Nothing I write on this blog is copyrighted, so you are most welcome to use any of it in any way you see fit.

As far as "consolidating it in a written form", everything written on the blog so far is the best I have to offer for now. Perhaps on future posts I will develop the thought a little more.

Actually, that's one of the cool things about blogging for me. It helps me to put down into words little by little thoughts that have up to then been just that: only thoughts. And then, to cap it all off, you get almost immediate feedback from other people who are wrestling with the same issues. All in all, very stimulating and edifying, from my point of view, provided you can always stick to edifying one another, not tearing down.

Also, sounds like you and Doug really have your work cut out for you there. That is really cool that you are "on the edge" of lostness. As Nehemiah said in ch. 4, v. 14: "Don't be afraid of your enemies! The Lord is great and fearsome. So think of him and fight for your relatives and children, your wives and homes!" From a New Testament perspective, I would include: for your future spiritual relatives who have yet to confess Christ as well.