In 1841, Dr. Livingstone arrived in Cape Town, South Africa, a staunch abolitionist, this Scottish medical missionary headed north through the continent of Africa exploring and and sharing his faith. He wrote and spoke about the horrors of the slave trade and shared of the beauty of the African people and country on his return trips to Great Britain. His explorations became legendary and his voice proved influential. In 1866 – on another trip to Africa, his voice was silent. No letters, no communication of any kind made its way back to Europe or America from the famous missionary and many supposed he was lost or dead. In 1871, Henry Morton Stanley a journalist with the New York Herald and London Telegraph was commissioned to search for the famous doctor. In 1871, it is said Stanley found Livingstone in the Zanzibar region suffering from illness. Upon locating the good doctor, Stanley introduced himself, saying, “Dr. Livingstone, I presume.” These lines echoed across Europe and America, gaining a fame to be all their own that would far outlive both the doctor and Stanley.
This past Sunday as we continued in our 2nd talk of the St. Pete series in 1 Peter chapter 2, there was a line from the Scripture that echoed in my own mind. Blake read from 1 Peter 2:5- “ And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple.”
Blake then elaborated of what the Temple would have meant to the people of the ancient city of Jerusalem. The temple would have been the representation of God’s presence in the community. So, when we hear that verse-- what does that look like in St. Pete, our city, for the followers of Jesus to be the living stones of the spiritual temple? What does it look like to be the representation of God’s presence on this earth? What does it look like to be the goodness, the love, the power of God represented in His people? What a powerful contemplation for this time as Radius, as we exercise LOVE WEEK while at the same time preparing a Building to be used as our Gathering space in coming months- to remember that, in fact,—we are the living stones of that spiritual temple of God.
The verse continues to read- “What’s more…” What’s more? More than the physical representation of God’s presence in our community? I don’t think I’m ready to hear what’s more than that, Peter. But the ancient writer, the man who walked, talked, denied and later died in commitment to our Jesus, continues--- “What’s more, you are his holy priests.”
From these words of Peter, Blake highlighted the point that as God’s priests we are meant to intercede on behalf of our city--- a simpler way to say that—we are to be praying for the spiritual health and well-being of the community and the people around us.
Personally, this was such a standout point for me as I have been hearing God say the same thing to me in 2018. He has told me that the season for my prayers to center around myself is done and a season of prayers for others has replaced it. Prayers for hearts to turn to Him, for souls to be rescued and for those hurting to find the healing of His presence. What I gained from Sunday’s talk, was that maybe our entire church family is being called into the same season. That our prayers for our community are to be reinvigorated and strengthened. That we are to be the living stones of his presence in our actions and to be his holy priests in our prayers.
So will you pray together with me, even now?
Good God, who loves us unconditionally- we praise You. We thank You for Jesus Christ and His work for us on the cross.
We thank you that in Your wisdom and blessing, You’ve placed us in this beautiful community to be Your living stones of Your presence.
God, there are so many needs here, seen and unseen- but we thank You that You see them all and You care for them all.
Father, act in Your great power in our community. Reveal Your goodness and Love to the people here. Help us to love people as you love people. Help us to point to Jesus well.
Heal those who hurt, rescue those who are lost, return those who have wandered, inspire those without purpose, loose those in the chains of addictions, be Hope for those feeling hopeless, and may those who need comforted find it in Your arms through the working of Your people. Remind this city all of us who live here that we belong to You.
We believe You have good and purpose in the future of St. Petersburg. May we have the opportunity to be a part of what You are doing for Your glory.
It is through Jesus’ power, we pray. Amen.
Finally, wherever you may be found this week, at work, at school, with friends or with family- I presume you will be found as Living stones.
You can listen and watch Sunday’s talk from the St. Pete series here--