Stones can be used for many things. In Acts chapter 7, verses 54 through 60, we read the story of the stoning to death of Stephen at the hands of the Pharisees.
People often throw figurative stones at each other, often without even considering the deep psychological damage caused; or perhaps knowing it full well. Perhaps stones were never meant to be thrown. When presented with a woman supposedly caught in the act of adultery, Jesus told her accusers that the one among them that was without sin should throw the first stone, and no one did (John 8:1-11).
Stones can represent the weight of our own guilt or regret. If we focus more on what we have done wrong, rather than what we can do right going forward, we may lose the strength to even try.
Stones can represent the weight of negativity that others put on us. If we are told that we are bad, or ugly, or unworthy, our self-image can become so broken-down that we can’t believe that anyone, including God, could possibly love us.
Stones can be used to build barriers that separate us from one another; even from God. If we spend more time fearing God than loving God, we are well on our way to building that barrier.
On the other hand, stones can be used to build a pathway to growth and happiness.
Stones can be used to build shelter from the storms of life. Stones can be used to prop-up someone that needs our support. Stones are plentiful; the thoughtful and productive use of them is not.
The Apostle Paul wrote: “According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building on it. Each builder must choose with care how to build on it. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one that has been laid; that foundation is Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 3:10, 11, NRSV).
The foundation laid by Jesus Christ is the rule of love. As our Presiding Bishop says, “If it’s not about love, it’s not about God!” Love does not throw stones. Love does not throw insults. Love does not belittle.
As that great gospel hymn proclaims, “Love lifted me. When nothing else could help, love lifted me.” Luke, writing in the Book of Acts tells us: “And now I commend you to God and to the message of his grace, a message that is able to build up and to give you the inheritance among all who are sanctified. (Acts 20:32, NRSV).
What will you build today, tomorrow, and for eternity? What stones do you need to shed yourself of and devote to the building-up of a stronger family, community, and world?
The grace of God gives you the peace to shed the stones of negativity and begin building on the firm foundation of the love of Jesus Christ. Happy building to you.
Rev. Dr. David Bridges is the pastor at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Grove. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.