Boko Haram in Nigeria kidnapped some 276 innocent schoolgirls and is threatening to sell them into slavery. Why? In part to stop them from learning Western values, which are often centered on the teachings of Christianity. They see Jesus as trash and misuse their Islamic faith to justify their radical behavior.
And they are not alone. Some people disallow and reject Jesus Christ. They slight Him, dislike Him, oppose Him and refuse Him. To many, he is garbage, simply trash, and His ideas are not worth discussing.
But Jesus is not trash. Jesus is a trash collector. Through Him, we are all cleaned up and our service is made perfect and acceptable.
In fact, one of my favorite times in Christian service is 9 o’clock on Wednesday nights. That is when, after a great fellowship meal and a stimulating Bible study discussion, I get my chance to be like Jesus and take out the night’s trash. Sometimes people try to stop me or help me but often I jokingly tell them, “This is the pastor’s job because I believe Jesus was the trash man.”
Did you know that Michelangelo’s sculptural masterpiece David was carved out of a flawed piece of marble that another artist started to work on but threw away as thrash in 1464?
Michelangelo was asked to finish the sculpture and On Sept. 9, 1501, he knocked off a knot that had been on the David’s chest. It is believed this knot was the flaw. Michelangelo, like Jesus, used thrown-away trash to create a masterpiece.
Indeed, it we, not Christ, who is “thrash.” Peter describes Christ in the text above as the church’s foundation as he goes on to speak of the superstructure. We, as flawed materials, are used to build upon, with Him as the church’s foundation. Peter 2:6 says, “You also are living stones, built up as a church,” suggesting the Christian church is a nobler structure than just a building because it is not an inanimate object but a place of living parts – parts that comprise us, those who believe in Christ.
Please do not take offense. I am not calling you trash. As the saying goes, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” The point is as sinners we are all saved by God’s grace and mercy. You might ask, “But what is grace?” Grace is everything given to someone who does not deserve anything.
Those who expect grace and mercy from a gracious Redeemer must first come to Him. If God never does anything more than redeem us, He has already done far more than we deserve.
Like Jesus, many of us are living stones – stones that other builders have rejected – and suddenly many of us find ourselves as the cornerstones of our local churches, communities and cities. As living stones, we “are being built into a spiritual house, a holy priesthood” (1 Peter 2:5).
What makes us such? It is the principle of Spiritual Life taught to us by Christ. The church is a house of strength and beauty, with a variety of parts, whose usefulness is found in the creation of the collective whole.
The church is a priesthood of trash collectors, who, like Christ, gather up the rejected marbles of society and offers them up through Christ, our High priest, as spiritual sacrifices to God.
We may be a stone the builders of society reject but, thank God, through Christ we who are the world’s trash become God’s treasures.
The Rev. Dr. R. Joaquin Willis is pastor of the Church of the Open Door UCC in Miami’s Liberty City community. He may be reached at 305-759-0373 or firstname.lastname@example.org