The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. Psalm 118:22-23 (NRSV)
Therefore let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified. Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.” – Acts 2:36-39 (NRSV)
In these two passages of Scripture are three key words. Rejected, Repent, and Receive.
In Psalm 118 the writer (likely either David, or his son Solomon) speaks of Jesus- one rejected by the world but who God raised up. As Jesus followers at times we are the world’s rejects- the nobodies, the forgotten, the weak, the poor. Yet God chooses us. Rejected by the world, maybe, but chosen by God. If the world rejects us, we are in good company. Jesus was rejected by the establishment. He was sold to the high priests for less than what it would cost in today’s money to fill up a Honda Accord. The stone the builders rejected, was indeed the Cornerstone.
Repentance is a concept that has been misunderstood and even at times broken down to a works-righteousness economy in which one has to make restitution for wrongs to be forgiven of them. Some religious traditions have even boiled down the concept of repentance to a brownie points system that infers that so many “good” acts negate and wipe away so many “bad” acts. In truth, we are only forgiven because God forgives us when we confess our sins to Him. Repentance is not just a formula to follow. It is being sorry and remorseful and even making amends where it is possible, but true repentance entails a fundamental attitude and behavioral change. To repent is to turn away from- to do a 180° away from sinful ways, and to go the opposite direction. We are not capable of true repentance apart from the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit. Only God can truly transform our minds and hearts to conform to His will and purpose. The good news is that He chooses us and He has the power to take the Pharisee Saul and transform him into the apostle Paul. God has a history of picking very unlikely people to do His most important and far reaching work.
The message of Pentecost- the day in which the Holy Spirit was set loose upon the world- is receive. Receive the Holy Spirit and allow Him to equip us to be God’s every day heroes- people who comfort others, help others, encourage others and bring God’s kingdom about on earth. That doesn’t mean that believers will always get everything they want, but that God does provide what we need, and often He does this in the strangest and most surprising ways. Just as the great theologian Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones once pointed out-
“You can’t always get what you want / You can try sometimes / You just might find / You get what you need” – “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” The Rolling Stones
The good thing is that God knows what we need is better for us sometimes than what we want, even when what is good for us is hard, and even when what is good for us hurts. He is equipping us to be His heroes, and for the life beyond this life that is forever. His provision is always there for us- and He provides for others through us.