The Stawamus Chief is Howe Sound’s impressive monolith. Rising hundreds of metres vertically from sea level, its presence commands great respect. The solid granite mass of the Chief’s three peaks attracts thousands of climbers and hikers every year, delivering stunning views from many vantage points. The Chief seems as solid and dependable as anything on earth. But when springtime rains and perhaps a deep earth-tremble recently loosened a section of granite at its fissures, tonnes of the Chief calved away plummeting to the forest floor. More than a rocky shoulder was lost that day; the aura of solid reliability was lost with it. The Stawamus Chief was not as indestructible as it had appeared.
As we explore our own identity, asking who we really are, perhaps we can relate to that old Stawamus Chief. Most of us have tried to represent solid dependability at times. We’ve maybe even believed it ourselves for a while, rising as examples of strength, intelligence, beauty, or other forms of commonly considered success. But there comes a moment in each of our lives when the persistent erosion of inner fears and a corresponding external stressor cracks the façade. We begin to see the stonework of our lives crumbling at our feet. Our identity has become a shambles.
“See, I lay a stone (“lithos”) in Zion,” quotes the Apostle Peter, referring to God’s message through the prophet Isaiah nearly a millennium earlier, “a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame” (I Peter 2:6). Notice how the reference to “the one who trusts in him” reveals this stone monolith as him, a person—a uniquely reliable and indestructible person. Peter, we may recall, was called “Petros”, little stone. But “Lithos,” Peter correctly interprets, is Christ. And not only is Jesus Christ the massive monolith and Rock of Ages, he is the resurrected and living Stone that changes everything for us.
“As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him—you also,” explains Peter, “like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (I Peter 2:4,5).
Jesus’ true identity as the cornerstone of all existence becomes the source of identity for those who “trust in him”. It is that simple. Trusting in the One who is the foundation of all life gives us a secure foundation. His permanence becomes our permanence. And—notice this—our true identity is dependent upon His identity. More than that, Jesus Himself explained that those who identify with Him, beginning to trust Him and continuing to trust Him—even when appearances sorely test that trust—will find His very presence dwelling within them.
“Remain in me,” counsels Jesus, “and I will remain in you” (John 15:4). He’s revealing something here. He means that when our identity is characterized by His work—Christ’s redeeming work of transforming us from our unnatural, fallen state into unsullied God-image-bearing creatures—we begin to solidify with the living minerals of Christ’s character. We will never be the “one and only Son” of which Christ is solely described, but we become “living stones” like Him who is called the “living Stone.”
We’re beginning to see a common thread here in these thoughts on identity: we are children of God only as we come to the one and only Son of God to receive family status; we are citizens of heaven only as the Great Ruler of Heaven makes a way for us to enter; and we are living stones only as the massive Rock and Cornerstone invites us to participate in his trustworthy and unchanging character.
The purpose of our identity is to reflect the identity of Christ. That goes for every human on this rocky planet. Any other identity is a shallow and trifling sham not worthy of our status as image-bearers of God. “I was born this way; this is who I am” is only a defense for maintaining the corrupted identity resulting from our fallen nature—it’s like clinging to the rubble at the base of the Stawamus Chief, unwilling to answer God’s calling of us to the heights.
So let’s come to him today, as Peter invites. Let’s accept our identity as living stones and offer praise to Jesus Christ, our God and King.
My hope is built on nothing less — Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness; —I dare not trust the sweetest frame,– But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.– On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; All other ground is sinking sand. All other ground is sinking sand. (“My Hope is Built on Nothing Less” by Edward Mote, 1797-1874)
<a title=”By Psi4ce at English Wikipedia (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons” href=”https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AChief_RP(1).JPG”><img width=”512″ alt=”Chief RP(1)” src=”https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/e/e2/Chief_RP%281%29.JPG/512px-Chief_RP%281%29.JPG”/></a>