on the centrality of Jesus

“So get rid of all evil behavior. Be done with all deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy, and all unkind speech. Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment, now that you have had a taste of the Lord’s kindness.
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. What’s more, you are his holy priests. Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God. As the Scriptures say, “I am placing a cornerstone in Jerusalem, chosen for great honor, and anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.”
Yes, you who trust him recognize the honor God has given him. But for those who reject him, “The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.”
And, “He is the stone that makes people stumble, the rock that makes them fall.”
They stumble because they do not obey God’s word, and so they meet the fate that was planned for them. But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. “Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s people. Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s mercy.” — 1 Peter 2:1-10

“Rid yourselves, then, of all evil; no more lying or hypocrisy or jealousy or insulting language. Be like newborn babies, always thirsty for the pure spiritual milk, so that by drinking it you may grow up and be saved.” I know these words don’t seem very inspiring. They’re probably not what you want to hear first thing in the morning, on your first day back to school.

‘Be nice to each other, stop being mean, read your bibles.’

And that’s the impression we often get about the Christian life, either ourselves as Christians living it, or watching Christians live it. What are Christians here for? To be nice. To make other people feel validated and affirmed. To maybe avoid talking about those parts of the Bible that are sliiiightly embarrassing.

But that’s just skin-deep Christianity. And thank goodness today’s passage doesn’t end there, because that’s not the Bible’s logic.

Look again at the passage: Be good to each other, depend on God’s Word like a baby depends on milk.

That’s about two sentences out of the whole passage. The rest talks about Jesus. Be good, do all these things – all of this because of Jesus.

It all holds together in Jesus: Christians, you be good, because Jesus is good, and you belong to him. He was rejected and murdered, but God glorified him – and that’s the pattern of the Christian life. Don’t lie to each other and tear each other apart, because Jesus didn’t do that.

Christians, you be good because we are needed to build God’s kingdom, building on the foundation that Jesus died for; there’s no time to be petty and jealous, there’s no time for backbiting and hypocrisy because there’s a very important job to be done, and time is running out. Jesus will come back someday.

Christians, you be good because you are priests – our job is to bring people and God back together again. Like what Jesus did. The Christian life isn’t about being nice and pleasant and affirming, we’re here because there’s a lot of hurt and evil in this world, hurt and evil that we have known ourselves, but Jesus brought us back into the light, gave us new life, and he’s sending us back out so that everyone else can have this new life too. Christians, depend on God’s Word like a baby depends on milk, grow strong, be wise, be good, don’t fall back into your old life of envy and fear, because you have a job to do. You’ve been called up to the big leagues now. You’re a priest, like Jesus. You’ll encounter trouble, like Jesus. But you will see glory, like Jesus.

Non-Christians, that’s the truth of the Bible, that’s God word. You take a look at the outside, dip your toe in the pool, and it doesn’t look like much. It looks like just more rules on how to be a good person. But the deeper you get into it, you’ll find it all revolves around Jesus. He’s the reason why we do what we do. He’s the one who gave us new life. He’s the hope we have when it looks like tomorrow will never come. He’s the one who keeps us from worshipping our own goodness and niceness. He’s the priest who brings all things back together again. And if that sounds super weird, well… I’m kind of glad I guess. Because God’s word doesn’t rest on sounding nice – it rests on Jesus, what he did, what he said, both the comforting parts, and the disturbing parts.

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