>This morning I preached in a church in Kibera, thanks to an invitation by Evangelist Emmanuel. It was fairly small, about 10 people. I chose to preach on 1 Peter 2:1-12, and to illustrate it I decided to modify the story of the three little pigs to an African context. This is what I came up with:
(Note: This is not exactly the sermon I actually preached. I didn’t quote either the passage from Isaiah or from Mark, and I made up a lot of other things along the way, like about sheep and sin and sacrifices and things like that. I didn’t use any fancy terms like “unadulterated,” which came from a Bible dictionary, either. Having a translator really does change the dynamics of what you’re saying and how you say it.)
To begin, I would like to tell you a story I heard in America when I was a child. That story is about three little pigs and a wolf, but since I’m in Kenya it will be about 3 little goats and a lion. Here in Kenya you have lions, in America we do not. Yesterday I was able to see some lions, which was very exciting. Here’s the story:
There lived three little goats who were brothers, and they each went out and build a little house. The first goat was not very clever, and he wanted his house made very quickly, so he just made his house of grass. The second goat was thinking that grass is very weak, but he did not want to take a long time either, so he made it of sticks. The third goat was very clever, and he took many weeks to make his house, but he made it out of stone.
Now there was a lion that lived by the goats, and one day he was very hungry. He went out hunting, and he came to the first goat’s house. He said, “Come out because I want to eat you!” The goat said “No, go away!” The lion said “Well then I will break down your house and eat you!” The goat’s house was only grass, and the lion broke it down easily and ate the goat.
This goat was very little, and the lion was still hungry. So he went to the next house and said “Come out I want to eat you!” The goat said, “No, go away!” The house was only made of sticks, and the lion broke it down and ate the goat. But this goat was little as well, and the lion still wanted some more. So he came to the third house made of stone. He said, “Come out because I want to eat you!” The goat said “No, go away!” The lion rushed at the house and tried to break it down, but the stone was strong, and he could not break though. The lion was angry, and he looked all over the house to find another way inside. But all the windows were barred, and he couldn’t find another way. Finally he noticed the chimney. He crawled up onto the roof, and then slipped into the chimney and went down. However, the goat was boiling milk for chai, and he had a big pot of milk boiling over the fire at the bottom of the chimney. The lion fell into the pot and died, and instead of tea the goat had lion stew that night.
Today I’m preaching on 1 Peter 2:1-13. I’m going to talk more about this story later, but first I’m going to read the passage.
1 So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. 2 Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up to salvation— 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.
4 As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For it stands in Scripture:
“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”
7 So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe,
“The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,”
8 and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.”
They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.
9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. ESV
Peter was one of Jesus’ twelve disciples, and he was one of the top leaders of the early church. He wrote this letter from the city of Babylon, and addressed it to all the elect scattered from Israel. In the Old Testament we read that the Assyrians and the Babylonians captured Israel, and they took them as captives all over the world. Peter was writing to these Jews that were foreigners in a strange country. This letter was written to encourage the believers who were going though persecution, many of them were being killed for being a Christian. It is a very hopeful letter and tells them to continue to trust in God.
I. In verse one, we are called to give up five different things: malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander.
Peter is giving us a list of evil things that we must avoid. The best way to avoid something evil is to replace it with something good. In Galatians Paul tells us the fruits of the Spirit that will help to drive out these other things from our lives:
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. ESV
II. Milk is how we grow up to salvation.
a. What is milk?
“Pure” milk meant that it had not been mixed with anything else; the term is used in business documents for sales of unadulterated foods, foods that have not been mixed with anything else. Have you ever had bad milk? Bad milk is not good for you; we must have the right milk!! I know some of you have had babies, and you know how they love to have their milk. What happens when they don’t get milk? They aren’t happy, are they? And they will not grow without milk.
ii. Reading the Bible
b. Reaching out to others is essential to growth in Christ. You have not learned something until you teach it to someone else.
There are hundreds of thousands of people that live here in Kibera, and I know many of them have not been born again. They do not have a relationship with Jesus Christ, and they do not know the love of God. I encourage all of you to find someone this week who does not believe in Jesus and tell them what He is doing in your life, and how great He is. Tell them how they can accept Christ and follow Him with their lives.
c. First you must have experienced that God is good!!
Do all of us here believe that God is good? If we do not, then all the milk in the world will not allow you to grow. First we must believe that God is truly good, and that He will always love you and never forsake you. In Psalm 16:11 David is saying that “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right are pleasures forevermore.” It does not always seem that God is good. Many times it seems God has forgotten us. However, God is faithful, and His promises are true. He will always work things out in the end.
a. Nature of stones
In our story earlier we saw that stones are strong, they are defense against the devil. Peter later says that the devil is like a roaring lion seeking who he may devour. What kind of a house are you living in? Is it one of grass or of stone? Are you living off the milk that will make you grow and that will destroy the devil when he attacks you?! Just as we must have the right milk to grow, we also must live in the right house.
b. We are living stones ourselves!
If there is one thing I know about stones, it is that they are dead. They are not alive. They are heavy, they are strong, and they are dead. But Peter says we are living stones! We ourselves are stones that make a spiritual house for God. We were dead in sins and evil, but God has made us alive. He has made us strong and powerful. He lives within us, and together we make up the body of Christ. We offer spiritual sacrifices just like the Israelites in the OT offered animal sacrifices. These sacrifices are prayers and praises, our abilities, our time with God and helping other people.
c. Cornerstones and Stones of Stumbling
Peter is quoting from the prophet Isaiah. Isaiah is saying in 28:14-17:
14 Therefore hear the word of the Lord, you scoffers, who rule this people in Jerusalem!
15 Because you have said, “We have made a covenant with death, and with Sheol we have an agreement, when the overwhelming whip passes through it will not come to us, for we have made lies our refuge, and in falsehood we have taken shelter”; 16 therefore thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I am the one who has laid as a foundation in Zion, a stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, of a sure foundation: ‘Whoever believes will not be in haste.’ ESV
Peter is also quoting what Jesus said in Mark 12:10-11.
10 Have you not read this Scripture: “‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; 11 this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?” ESV
A cornerstone is the most important stone in a building. Jesus is our cornerstone, and everything we do must be built on Him.
Peter also talks about a stone of stumbling and offence. If a stone is in the middle of the road, it can trip you up. Stones can make a matatu ride very bumpy! The gospel can also be like a stone, and some people are thinking about God and going towards Him and then they come to the gospel and fall right down. Jesus offended many people, and eventually was killed, but just like a stone he did not waver and He stood firm.
IV. God has chosen us!!
Peter says that those who have been rejected of men have been chosen by God. Has anyone here been rejected by man? I have been rejected before. If you have been rejected, know that God has chosen you!! Hallelujah. God is good. We are chosen, royal and holy. Did you know you are chosen, royal, and holy? We are a race, a priesthood, a nation, and a people for God’s own possession. When God has redeemed us, we are no longer our own, but we belong to God. We are all these things for the purpose of proclaiming the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. That is what God’s church of living stones is for. We all stand together to form a strong building that must hold against the attacks of Satan and reach out to others with this message of God’s light.
V. We must be pure and honorable.
Peter was writing to people that lived far from home in strange countries, facing danger and persecution. We may not live in a strange country and have the same persecution, but we are all strangers on this world, and must remember that we belong to God’s kingdom, which is not of this world. Remember the list of the fruits of the Spirit I read earlier. These are the fruits that help us to fight against our passions and desires. This is a war against our soul.
Why is this war important? Peter says that we must keep our conduct honorable, so that when people think we are evil, they see our good deeds and glorify God instead. There are many people watching you, and our lives are important. Let us serve God in the power of His Spirit.
Review story and the nature of stones. God has chosen us and put all of us in the place we are in so we can serve Him there. You are all here for a reason, and God has work for you here. Tell your friends about how strong God is, and how must better it is to live in his light than in darkness. You are a royal priesthood and a holy nation. You form God’s house in Kibera. He will protect you against evil and against the plots of the enemy. His Spirit will keep you strong.