We arrived at dusk and set up our tent in the semi-darkness. There was a deep blackness on the far side of us, which we took to be the cliff; we knew that it rose several hundred feet from the floor of the river valley on which we camped. We sensed rather than saw its massive presence. Awaking the next morning we peered sleepy-eyed out of our tent and saw something else. There beside us perched a huge boulder, some five metres in diameter and ten tonnes in weight. When had this megalith landed here? With dawning realization we began to understand our delicate position: we were either beautifully safe, protected by the huge sentinel that shadowed us from other harm, or we were in desperate danger, lounging in avalanche territory.
The Apostle Paul describes another boulder of dual impact. He quotes the ancient prophet Isaiah who describes God saying, “See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”
This megalith is Jesus. He holds a unique and controversial position as a result of His arrival among us. He was a Jew, defined by His heritage as one who kept Moses’ law, but He up-ended the system by His work on the cross. He nullified the natural inheritability of being considered ‘children of God’ by birth, rather making relationship with God available only by faith.
“In other words,” explains the transformed Jew, Paul, “it is not the natural children who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring.” He continues to explain that those who pursue moral or spiritual merit by works, pride or ignorance will not attain it. Only those who simply entrust their future to the finished work of Jesus are considered right with God.
Jesus becomes a stumbling block to the one, and a Rock of Ages to the other.
This is why Jesus is so controversial here on earth. People seem to despise, discount, or dishonour Him, or they find Him to be their sole hope and protection. It comes down to how we embrace Him.
So here again we find ourselves at a crossroads. This time there is a huge boulder in the middle of the path. We cannot go over, under, around or through it. We must place ourselves under its shadow, in deference to its power, or stumble as a result of it. We make the choice every day in innumerable ways.
When we awake, we choose to honour and praise Jesus for our opportunity of life, or we ignore Him and plug into the world’s messages for counsel. When we do our daily tasks, we consciously seek to please Jesus by living with integrity and loving those around us, or we insist on seeing the world as our plaything. When we have leisure time, we choose to invest in our relationship with God and others, or we invest in our own pleasure. We make these choices every day.
The Cornerstone is not going away. His influence is here to stay and we can either be strengthened by Him, or stumble over Him.
“For who is God besides the LORD? And who is the Rock except our God?” (Psalm 18:31).
(Photo Credit: Wikimedia COmmons; MinuHiiumaa [[File:Majakivi 2014.jpg|thumb|Majakivi 2014]]