A Radical Rock

I am raising rock hounds. While I am glad to be putting a fraction of those hours in various Biology labs that monopolized my college education to good use, I do grow weary of the piles of rocks I find everywhere in our home.

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From the amount of times God or His people talk about rocks in the Bible, one gets the idea that God, too, may be a bit of a rock hound. After all, He, the Rock, created all rocks with their different lusters and hardnesses and shapes and colors. I bet Heaven houses a rock collection that would put the Nat to shame.

Moses was graciously and protectively hidden in the cleft of the rock when God’s glory passed by (Exodus 33:22). He struck the Rock (two times, unfortunately) and water gushed forth to the thirsty people (Numbers 20). Even at the end of his life, before he passed the leadership baton onto Joshua, Moses sang of God using rock imagery: “The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he” (Deut 32:4).

Oftentimes, after a decisive victory or a significant moment, God instructed His people to gather large rocks and set them atop one another as remembrances (1 Samuel 7:12).

David was ubiquitous in his use of rock imagery in the Psalms, as seen particularly in Psalm 61:1-3, but also in  Psalm 27: 5, Psalm 78:35 and Psalm 81:16. “Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I, for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy.” 

Jesus instructed His disciples, both then and now, to build their houses upon the Rock, rather than the shifting sand (Matthew 7:24).

Jesus said that man would not worship Him, the inanimate rocks themselves would cry out (Luke 19:40).

I love the image of God being my rock, I love to pray to the Rock of Ages, the steady and unchanging One. Clearly, I am not alone in this, as we have seen through the brief and cursory walk through the Bible searching for rocks. Yet, this week, while reading a book written by J.S. Stewart about the Church’s mission, an indictment regarding rocks rocked me (pun intended) to the core.

“Of those whose religious experience has meant the pleasant comfort and security of having a solid rock beneath their feet not all have realized that the rock is volcanic, and that sleeping volcanoes can awake. Long ago at Thessalonica the objection urged against the Gospel was that it ‘turned the world upside down’; and still wherever the Gospel comes, the authentic gospel- in India and Africa, in Britain and America – the same revolutionary force is unleashed.”

Guilty as charged. I love the static nature of the Gospel, I love that the work on the Cross is finished, that our hard labor is over (Isaiah 40:1-2). I love enjoying the stability and assurance that Christ purchased for us, I love knowing that I can be hidden in God’s presence, that I might approach the throne of grace with boldness through Him.

But I tend to shy away from the commands of the Gospel, the imperatives that are implied and pulled out of those indicative truths. The Gospel is static in that it is the same and always will be; however, it is dynamic in that it does work, it moves, it compels us to move to the outermost parts of the earth or at least the outermost parts of our comfort zones.

As Stewart so winsomely wrote, we are compelled into the mission of the Gospel: “The present age, by the fiat of God Himself, is to be characterized as the era of mission, in which every Christian is implicated…Like its Master, it was to take upon itself the burden of the plight of men, and to involve itself in all the conditions of their life on earth. From that warfare there is no discharge, from that concern of love no possible release, until God is all in all.”

The Rock is moving beneath our feet, moving the ends of the earth to know and love and worship Him who loved them while they were yet sinners.

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