Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God’s sight, and like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in scripture:
‘See, I am laying in Zion a stone,
a cornerstone chosen and precious;
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.’
To you then who believe, he is precious; but for those who do not believe,
‘The stone that the builders rejected
has become the very head of the corner,'
‘A stone that makes them stumble,
and a rock that makes them fall.’
They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
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.
This letter was written from Rome about 65 BCE to Christians in Asia Minor who were being severely persecuted for their faith. This particular passage seems to mix several metaphors in calling the people to stay firm in their faith. They are, he writes, 'living stones' standing firm against challenges, so long as they hold to their faith in the Christ, the living stone that centers us against all negativity. He also compares them to a 'holy priesthood' and quotes both Isaiah and Psalms to make his point that a misplaced stone—that is, a belief in the power of negative energies—can become a hindrance. They were predominately gentiles, so they were 'no people' in that they did not have the association with Judaism that other early Christians did. Now, however, they are united as a people through their faith in the teachings of Jesus.
Metaphysically, I think the 'people' are thoughts in consciousness. They have long been a confusing mixture of love and fear, light and darkness, without any way to sort them out. Now, as we remember ourselves as the spiritual beings we truly are, that awareness creates a force in consciousness that can affirm the positive and dissolve the fears. Our scattered thoughts become One, gathered around the solid stone of Christ Awareness.