At the 2022 ICAP Global conference, I led a forum conversation on Belonging, our conference theme based on Ephesians 2:19-22. At the end of this forum, I invited attendees to use their imaginations to enter into these verses and imagine they are stones being built into God’s temple. Many asked afterward for this resource, and so I provide it here. Enjoy!
Ephesians 2:19-22 from the Message
That’s plain enough, isn’t it? You’re no longer wandering exiles. This kingdom of faith is now your home country. You’re no longer strangers or outsiders. You belong here, with as much right to the name Christian as anyone. God is building a home. He’s using us all—irrespective of how we got here—in what he is building. He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation. Now he’s using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together. We see it taking shape day after day—a holy temple built by God, all of us built into it, a temple in which God is quite at home.
This exercise is best used when read to the audience, so they can fully immerse themselves in the narrative. You are welcome to use it in your ministry context, but please give me (Sarah Jo Austin) credit!
Imagine you are a stone. A very large stone. Big enough that a man can not lift you alone. You are heavy and weighty with your presence in the world.
What do you look like? Are you marble with veins running through you? Granite dappled in grey and black? A precious stone? Maybe a red ruby or a green emerald?
Now imagine that you are pressed deep within the earth. You’ve not yet been quarried. It’s dark and cold. Earth presses in all around you. Who knows how long you have been buried?
But one day you hear and feel rumbling and vibrating around you. It goes on for days and weeks. Then one day, an enormous blast jolts you from the earth. Daylight creeps into the earthen cracks around you.
Soon you hear more rumbles. Feel more vibrating. These are giant yellow earth movers, their engines humming all day long. Moving the loosened stones and earth around you.
Finally, one of these earth movers picks you up as if you weigh nothing at all. And you are moving across time and space, the wind in your gravel, the sun warming you. And you are carefully set down around other stones.
But these are not beautiful stones. They are dull and gray and dusty. Is it possible that you look like this too?
Before you can really consider what you must look like, a truck below you fires up its engine and begins bouncing down the quarry road. And you bounce and jostle against the other stones for hours and hours.
Eventually the truck stops and another earth mover unloads you. You are piled up with the other stones. And you wait and you wait. And you wait. The snow comes. The rain comes. The sun starts to shine again. And weeds begin to grow up between you and the rest of the stones.
But one day, a Master Stonecutter walks past you and says this is the one I’ve been looking for. And before you know it, you have been moved again into a workspace. And the Stonecutter starts chipping away at your rough edges and your excess volume. He speaks about a Cornerstone that you must be measured against.
He measures you and takes more off here. Measures again and takes more off there. Until finally he is satisfied with your width and height and depth. He keeps talking to you about the Cornerstone.
But you are not yet ready. So he scrubs off the dirt and the grime. He sands and smooths each side. He buffs out the smudges. And when you’re really shining, he stands back, smiles at you in satisfaction, and says, “This one is ready.”
You take a deep breath. After all, you are a living stone. What could possibly be next?
Carefully, the Stonecutter brings you to the home he is building where he has been laying stone after stone after stone for generation after generation after generation. You can see the other stones that have come before you. The foundation built long ago and far below. And then you see the Stone. The Cornerstone the Stonecutter talked about and measured you against day after day. This was the standard stone he was conforming you to.
Now he’s using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with the Cornerstone that holds all the parts together.
You look around and see all the stones around. Somehow, you are all measured to the same dimensions. Yet each one of you is unique and serving in a place made just for you.
You see the home taking shape day after day—a holy temple built by the Stonecutter, all of us built into it, a temple in which the Stonecutter is quite at home.