“You are coming to Christ, who is the living cornerstone of God’s temple. He was rejected by people, but He was chosen by God for great honor. And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple…The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.” 1 Peter 2:4-5a,7b
“God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important.” 1 Corinthians 1:28
The Elephant Man, is a play and later a film in 1980, based upon the true story of a late 19th Century London man named John Merrick who suffered from a hideous genetic deformity. At first glance the face and body of Merrick is something very hard to look upon. He was considered a freak, not even human. Because of that he was cruelly used, abused and exploited as an “exhibit” at a store by a man named Ross.
Thankfully, he was rescued from that life by a Dr. Treves. At the beginning Treves uses Merrick, not for money but as a living specimen for a lecture to medical students. Dr. Treves slowly goes through a transformation as he concludes that Merrick can’t be returned to Merrick’s previous “owner.” He put him up in the hospital as a permanent resident where he could get the best of care, human socialization and religious education.
In the process Treves and others who came into Merrick’s life began to see that his speech difficulty because of his deformity did not mean he was lacking intelligence. In fact, he possessed great artistic genius! As he grew in his faith in Christ, he began to steadily heal from his deep past wounds and the lies told to him all of his life. The greatest lie was that he “was less than human.”
Merrick quietly took on a project as his body steadily was succumbing to his deformity. His hospital room overlooked the London skyline and the steeple of St. Phillip’s Church peaked out above the other buildings. With just a view of the steeple to go by and from his vivid imagination, he built a beautiful model of that cathedral out of the scraps of paper and cardboard he collected from the hospital’s waste basket. Also, amazingly, he diligently worked on this project with only one functioning hand.
Merrick finally completed his cathedral. When he had finished his model of that cathedral he laid down and died in peace just as His Savior had done for him. He had finished his race. He demonstrated what Christ, the Rejected One does in taking the “throw aways,” the discarded and devalued of this world and includes them in building a beautiful dwelling place that displays His glory.
The value we each have is not in how we look, how we are perceived or affirmed by others, but as Merrick taught us, our value is God-given. Jesus Christ and His cross is ridiculed and mocked today in our arrogant self-seeking world. As Merrick experienced, many like the crowd either turned away from him in revulsion or exploited him for their own gain like Ross did. But quietly, little by little He is building His magnificent “cathedral” and is using US, those who this world says are of no value, of no consequence-unless we are among the elite, the beautiful, the powerful, the famous or the very wealthy.
We will experience our true value and dignity by being firmly connected to the One, rejected by men but Chosen by God. And as His beloved and chosen ones, who know what rejection feels like, we need to have our eyes peeled, especially looking out for others the world has neglected or rejected. If we can, as rejected ones, see ourselves as chosen, we will see the rejected of our world in the same way!
Lord Jesus, you chose us out to the “wastepaper basket of this world.” You understand what rejection feels like and have genuine compassion for what we have been through. You, the rejected by many but Chosen One of God, are fitting us together with a spiritual family to become your living Body through whom You will be glorified forever. Amen!
Written by Jamie Bohnett. Contact the Author: firstname.lastname@example.org