A Holy Land Christian artisan works with mother-of-pearl.
Christians in the Holy Land are often referred to as “Living Stones.” This term was made popular over time since Palestinian Christians are the people who descend from the first Christians. Their ancestors were there when the Spirit fell during Pentecost, and they were the first to venerate the holy places, the actual stones, where Jesus walked and suffered until His death. These families have remained in the Holy Land for generations.
The Responsibility Felt by the Living Stones
As “Living Stones,” these descendants of the first Christians feel a certain responsibility for maintaining Christian worship in the Holy Land. This is why it’s very hard for them to leave their homeland for better opportunities in other countries. Because the Jerusalem barrier wall prevents Palestinian Christians from entering into the city of Jerusalem for work, there is a severe lack of employment and opportunity in the region, which has caused mass emigration to other countries.
The graph above shows how the Palestinian-Israeli conflict has impacted the presence of Christians in the Holy Land. This is why pilgrimages to the Holy Land are an important source of aid to the “Living Stones” by supporting the tourism industry and Christian businesses there. This is also why the Holy Land Gift Shop sells Christian-made art and gifts from the Holy Land.
“Living Stones” Comes Directly from the Bible
In addition, the term “living stone” is a very biblical one, which ties them to the stories that happened there. Got Questions Ministries shares more on “living stones” as it’s used in the Bible:
“The term living stones in 1 Peter 2:5 is used as a metaphor to illustrate the secure and intimate relationship believers have with Jesus, who is described in the previous verse as the ‘living Stone’ (1 Peter 2:4). Together, these two verses picture how Christ and His followers are joined by God Himself: “As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to Him—you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:4–5).
Holy Land Christian artisan Bassem Giacaman runs an olive wood shop in Bethlehem. The shop was passed down to him by his father and grandfather before him.
Jesus Christ is the Cornerstone
The foundation of God’s building is His Son, Jesus Christ, the “living Stone.”
The “living stones,” in turn, are believers who come to Jesus and place their lives upon this foundation. The living Stone is “precious” to those who believe (1 Peter 2:7), but some men reject the living Stone in order to build their lives their own way, not God’s way (see Psalm 118:22 and Luke 6:46–49).
Unbelievers cast this living Stone aside, not caring that Jesus is the only true foundation upon which they can build securely (1 Corinthians 3:11).
In a metaphor much like that of the living Stone, Jesus is described as the chief cornerstone in Ephesians 2:19–22. Peter references Jesus as the cornerstone in Acts 4:11–12, stating that “salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” God accepts no one who refuses to become a part of His building. And God is just like all builders—He has a foundation upon which all workers must build (Matthew 7:24–27).
The Anointing Stone in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher is said to be the place Jesus’ body was anointed for burial.
Placed Exactly Where God Wants Us To Be
Believers, then, are the “living stones” of the church that Jesus promised to build (Matthew 16:18). As living stones, we have new life in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). As integral parts of the building of God, we have security in Christ (John 6:37). As the Master Builder, God places His living stones just where He wants us to be (1 Corinthians 12:18). As living stones, we are connected to one another in the body of Christ (Romans 12:5). Our Lord, the foundation Stone, is alive forevermore and will never crumble. He will support us eternally.
Peter goes on to describe the function of the living stones: to “declare the praises” of Him who called us out of the darkness of sin into the light of life and glory (1 Peter 2:9). This is the “job description” of a living stone: a speaker of praise, a declarer of truth and love and light. The spiritual house God is building is designed for His glory, and we, the living stones, glorify the Lord in all we do (1 Corinthians 10:31).
Pilgrims to the Holy Land who travel with us often get to meet many of these Living Stones. Our friars lead pilgrims to the souvenir shops run by Christians and where Christian artisans craft gifts like pottery, olive wood icons, and mother-of-pearl jewelry and crosses.
Original post here.