When I was in seminary, I would frequently lace up my shoes and run the streets of downtown Waco, Texas. At the intersection of 4th street and Austin Ave in downtown rests a memorial. It is a stone cut into the shape of a teardrop. The following is craved into the face of the stone:
“On May 11, 1953, one of the deadliest tornadoes in United States history descended on downtown Waco and shocked the soul of a community. This commemorative honors the memory of 114 people who died in that storm and celebrates the spirit of the community that survived.”
On the back of the stone, the names of the 114 people are listed. Inscribed along the bottom: “Their souls belong to heaven; their memories belong to us.” It is a somber feeling as you stand in front of this stone. You can’t help to picture 1950’s Waco. Your mind pictures the devastation of buildings and homes. Your heart aches for friends and families who lost loved ones.
Yet, it is a somber feeling that you will only experience in front of the stone. The feeling quickly fades as you leave the intersection. The feeling is completely absent as you complete tasks throughout the day.
The stone causes the feeling. The stone brings along the memories.
In a higher and holier way, Scripture tells a similar story. In 1 Peter 2:1-10 we see that the church was never a building.
The Church was Never a Building
The Apostle Peter encourages us to come to “the living Stone” – that is Jesus. Some will come to Jesus and place their trust in him and never be put to shame. Some will come to Jesus and stumble. They will not place their trust in him. Rather, they will see him as a nuisance. And it will lead to their own destruction.
Peter encourages his audience, and you, to come to Jesus. As we come to Jesus, again and again, we become more and more like Jesus. In fact, we undergo an identity change. Jesus is the Living Stone and the church becomes living stones.
We are to be living stones – taking Jesus with us everywhere we go. Our words and our actions should resemble Jesus. They should cause people to make a choice: Place trust in Jesus or stumble over him.
You see, the church was never about a building. The church was never about a steeple, fellowship hall, or worship center. The church was never about budgets, buildings, or bottoms in the seat.
We’ve spent eight Sundays with closed doors. Yet, the church hasn’t changed one bit.