1 Peter 2:2-10/ Psalm 31/ John 14:1-14
Discipleship is a Lifestyle
This past week, I thought of different religions and people who convert to one of them. Christianity has members all over the world and from many different ethnic groups, but not all religions are like that. Judaism and Islam are mainly for specific ethnic groups. While visiting a synagogue in Montreal, I witnessed a non-Jewish (a.k.a. “Gentile”) woman converting to Judaism because she was going to marry a Jewish man. I knew that this woman would have to change her lifestyle to live as a religious Jewish person. She would have to follow the teachings of the Torah, including the Sabbath law and the kosher diet. Belonging to a religious community usually demands a lifestyle change as well as the change of beliefs. Converting to the Islam faith would also require a drastic lifestyle change. Today’s keyword is “lifestyle,” and we will reflect on what it entails to be a Christian, to belong to the Christian community of faith.
A Chosen Race, A Royal Priesthood, A Holy Nation
We start today’s lesson from First Peter chapter 2. We read stone analogies. The author of the Books of Peter mentions Jesus as a stone rejected by others but chosen by God. He quotes Isaiah 28 and Psalm 118, both of them being stone analogies.
“See, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” (from Isaiah 28)
“The stone that the builders rejected has become the very head of the corner.” (from Psalm 118)
He quotes the third scripture from Isaiah 8: “A stone that makes them stumble, and a rock that makes them fall.”
Jesus is the stone and those who do not obey the word stumble. Jesus as the stone became the foundation on which the house of God, the body of Christ, our Christian community of faith was built. We are also stones that form the house of God. As members of the community, we are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that we may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called us out of darkness into his marvelous light.” (from 2:9)
We are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation.” As Christians, we believe that we are all called into priesthood, which means we all have to participate in the ministry of Jesus Christ. Only coming to church on Sunday, only coming to church on Christmas and Easter is not compatible with our Christian faith. Professing Jesus Christ as our teacher and saviour but living as if we have nothing to do with Jesus is not compatible with our faith.
Just as converting to Judaism involves a lifestyle change, living as Christians also demands a lifestyle change. Following Jesus means living by the faith by which Jesus lived and died. It includes fighting our prejudices, showing through our words and deeds that everyone is God’s beloved and equally precious, and not being silent at the injustice of our society. Following Jesus is not a verbal profession; it should be professed through our actions every moment of our lives. Discipleship is a lifestyle choice.
Lifestyle of Following Jesus
The fact that following Jesus is a lifestyle choice is implied during his lifetime. The Jesus we meet in the Gospel of John demonstrates this lifestyle of being faithful children of God. “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” We gain access to God through Jesus, which is why we pray in the name of Jesus. He is the mediator between God and us. That is why we Protestants don’t need to confess our sins to our pastors or pray to the saints to intercede for us.
The fact that Jesus is the way to God implies a lifestyle. Walking a certain path means being on it the whole time until we reach the destination. We stay on the path, and even when we stray from it for a while, we have to come back in order to reach the destination. Jesus is our way to God. We should stay with him always. And when we stray away from his teachings, we can and should come back. This is a lifestyle. This is a lifestyle that demands us to not let our hearts be troubled but to believe in God and also in Jesus, as Jesus says in John 14:1. Believing in God and in Jesus is what we need in this lifestyle.
We should stay with Jesus, look to Jesus at all times, and be able to sing like the psalmist, who sang, “I trust in you, you are my God. Deliver me in your righteousness. Be my rock of refuge and fortress. Lead me and guide me for your own name’s sake. My times are in your hands.” We chose to follow Jesus and to believe in God whom Jesus taught. We chose to be the disciples of Jesus, which means we accept the lifestyle of Jesus. We should always trust God and Jesus, see one another with the eyes of compassion and justice, and show the world with our words and deeds that we belong to Jesus and the reign of God that he preached.