Posted in Christian Living, Christianity

The Challenge in Stones: Practical Steps to Shine His Light


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Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”   “I tell you,” He replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”  Luke 19:39-40

Stones are fascinating things. They are so hard, they form mountains only TNT can blast through. Yet, they can be smoothed and carved over time through the flow of a river or even just a dripping of water. We carry small stones, smooth and oval, in our pockets to rub soothingly. The casting of stones symbolizes judgment.

The first time the concept of the stones crying out was driven home to me was actually through the imagery evoked in one of Nicole Nordeman’s hits, “My Offering.”  She sings:

Give the rocks and stones voices of their own, if we forget to sing praises to our King.

The idea that something so hard and silent can be made to speak just underscores the awesome power of our God. But the idea of stones crying out also reminds us that God wants our praise. Let that sink in a minute. The God who created Heaven and Earth, who tells the sun where to rise and the oceans how to flow, who needs nothing because He made everything desires your praises. I don’t know about you, but that realization always makes me want to shout!

There is another side to stones, however, that is equally important to the concept of praising God with our voices, and that is the practical side of living the Christian life not just by a profession of our faith with our lips but through our actions.  Jesus explains it this way:

“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like.  They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built.  But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.” (Luke 6:46-49)

The foundation of practical living from a Christian perspective is laid out for us in the Sermon on the Mount.  The teachings contained in Matthew 5-7 are the core of what authors on the subject dub “Kingdom Citizens,” who are you and I, believers in Christ working our way through this life in a quest to become more Christ-like. Kingdom living is not easy.  It requires the best of us. At the same time, we are never alone when we are attempting to walk in the footsteps of Christ, for He promises to be with us always (Matthew 28:20).
There are, I am sure, many wonderful works on the Sermon on the Mount, but there are two in particular I would like to recommend. One is Invitation to a Spiritual Revolution by Paul Earnhardt.  The other is Living Jesus by Randy Harris, who writes,
These students understand that the Sermon on the Mount is calling Christians to a way of life, not a demographic choice like checking a box.
Earnhardt adds,
A distorted view of “justification by faith” has been a popular subterfuge. Boiled down, this approach holds that Christ has no concern with how you live, only how you feel . . . . But this is not faith in God but “faith in faith” — a self-serving ‘believism.’  We are certainly justified by faith, but a faith that manifests itself by obedience to God’s commands (Luke 6.46; John 14.15, 21, 23; 15.10, 14; Gal. 5.6; Jas 2.14-26). That is clearly the message of the Sermon on the Mount.
Another famous story involving stones in the Bible underscores the narrow way. Remember when Moses struck the stone to bring water forth for the Israelites instead of speaking to it as God commanded him?  The consequence was that God showed Moses the Promised Land but did not allow him to enter it! For a man who had spent 40 years talking directly to God, doing what God asked, leading a mass of people against his own wishes, failing in one of God’s commands leading to such dire consequences just emphasizes how important it is to God that we do as He says!
But, another message of the Sermon on the Mount is the blessings of Christianity as a way of life, which the Bible (as well as Earnhardt and Harris’ books) also make clear:
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. (Matthew 7:7-8)
My best friend likes to say that God often hits us with pebbles, and if we ignore Him long enough, He’ll get our attention with a stone to the head. As I work to approach Christianity as a practical way of life, I will be sensitive to the pebbles this week and pray about acting on the opportunities to shine His light.
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Author:

I am a 40-something Texan with a feisty cat and a supportive husband of 20 years. With a Master's degree in English with an emphasis on creative writing, I have taught creative writing at Texas Tech, won awards for my writing and been blessed to be mentored by Horn Professor and poet Dr. Walt McDonald. I earn a living by helping my husband's family run a health food store, but my avocation is writing. I hope you enjoy reading about some of my triumphs and tragedies as I continue to work on figuring out what life is all about and on growing my ability to share my writing. May your own journey be a blessed one.

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