#instalife week 4: You are a Priest


Today we come to the end of our 4 week series #instalife, looking at the concept of identity and where we derive our self worth and identity from. I don’t know about you but it has really challenged me to look inside and figure out where I have been deriving my identity from.

We started this series by hosting the art series by the same name by the artist Tobias Treppemann on First Friday. Then the first week of our series we looked at the idea that we are friends of God. That we are no longer slaves or servants, but that we are actually friends of God. That God is actually for us and not against us.

Two weeks we we talked about the idea that we are all children of God, no matter where we are with Jesus (Acts 17:28-29) But at the same time those who follow Jesus are adopted sons and daughters of the Father. We are the ones who have taken on the family name, so to speak. Not that he loves us more or loves those who haven’t taken on the family name yet less. We have been adopted, not by what we have done, or by our own strength, power, and might. But only through the amazing, redeeming, love of God the Father.

Last week we talked about the idea that we are masterpieces created and crafted by the master artist. We talked about the idea that when we look in the mirror do we see that masterpiece, or do we see the mud (the brokenness, the sin, etc..). We also talked about the idea that when we look at others do we see the mud (the sin, the brokenness) that people are mired in, or do we see the masterpiece that God has created. I also had several conversations that many of us struggle not with seeing the masterpiece in others, but we struggle more seeing the masterpiece within our own lives. (myself included).

Today we wrap up our #instalife conversation looking at an idea that is not only about just ourselves, but about our community as a whole. And that questions of identity not on extend to the individual but also extends to community. And the question that I want us to wrestle with is what is our corporate identity. Where do we get our corporate identity from and what is God’s calling for us as a people of God in this time and in this place. Not that there isn’t an individual calling and identity that God wants us to wrestle with in this text, and we’ll also address this as well. But this text, that we are looking at today, definitely speaks to us as a community and what our identity should be as a community of people who are seeking to follow Jesus together.

So we are going to look at 1 Peter 2:9 together and talk about the idea that you are a priest. So let’s turn to 1 Peter 2:9 and see what it might say to us as individuals but almost more importantly what it has to say to us as a community of the people of God.

1 Peter 2:9 says this, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”

So the first thing that we see is that there is this one word that is repeated 3 times in this one verse. The word you is repeated. Now you might know this already but whenever you read the word you in the Bible, most if not all of the time this word is plural and not singular. So it means you all. That it is not you as an individual. In fact the idea of the individual is mostly a modern idea and invention. In fact everything that Peter says that we are, we have to be together. You can’t be a people, a priesthood, a holy nation alone. All of these things are, by definition, for a group of people. And so 1 Peter 2:9 is written to a community of followers of Jesus. We see who it was written to in 1 Peter 1:1 when Peter says, “To God’s elect, exiles scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia,” So Peter is speaking to the church.

Also what we see in 1 Peter 2:9 are words that could have been said of Israel in the NT. The words chosen people, priesthood, and nation all point directly to the Old Testament and this connection that the things that once exclusively belonged to Israel- their election, their priesthood, and their calling, are now no longer the property of Israel. These are now the property of every follower of Jesus. These are now the property of every community of followers of Jesus.

So let’s go phrase by phrase and see what each phrase might say to us about our identity as the people of God.

So Peter first calls us a chosen people. What does he mean by chosen? We see that he is repeating this idea from 1:1 where he says to God’s elect. But what does this all mean? I believe this idea of being chosen or elect if you will, is not what so many people believe it to be. I believe that being chosen is always on a corporate level. Notice the next word, a chosen people. Not a chosen person. Secondly I believe we are chosen not to the exclusion of others but for others. Look at the first calling of the chosen people, the Israelites, found in Genesis 12:1-3. They are blessed, not to the exclusion of others but for others. So that they can be a blessing. I think too often when we see the word chosen we believe it implies the rejection of those not chosen. But I don’t believe that to be. I believe that our being chosen is for the benefit and the blessing of others in the world around us. We are chosen in Christ for the purpose or the mission of declaring the praises of him who called us out of darkness into his wonderful light. And when we live out this mission, we hope and pray that the whole world will be saved, restored (remember our conversation from last week about the word saved means being restored to the original condition that God created us to be and for) and to find justice in him.

And this calling to be a blessing and to work to see the world world restored, redeemed, and renewed by Jesus, takes us to the next calling that God, through Peter calls his church to be, that of a royal priesthood. The offices of royalty and priesthood in the Old Testament were jealously separated but Jesus, who is our King and our priest brought them together for his people, his church. So what does it mean then to say that this body of followers of Jesus are to be a royal priesthood? Well what was and is the royal of a Priest? According to 1 Peter 2:5 one of our roles as Kingdom Priests (we are God’s New Testament Kingdom of Priests much like the nation of Israel was in the OT) is to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. So therefore, as fellow priests with our great High Priest Jesus, we offer up to God our sacrifices of praise, our Kingdom work of being a blessing in the world, and all of our lives, as well as reflecting God in our lives, interceding for others before God, and to represent and serve him and his Kingdom in our world.

We are to be a holy nation. This again drives us right back to the OT, and more specifically, right back to Genesis 12 verse 2 which says, “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great and you will be a blessing.” And so God, through Abram, calls those who follow in his footsteps, to be a holy nation. A nation whose calling in life is to be blessed in order to be a blessing. But this nation is not derived by states and borders. We aren’t talking about nations like the nation of the United States, as this nation transcends all divisions of the nations, that we set up. Instead this holy nation is made off of people from every tribe, nation, place and people. A nation of followers of Jesus called to live out the Abrahamic call to be a nation of blessing to everyone they meet.

And lastly he calls us his special possession. When we come to know Jesus, and place him first in our lives, we give up possession of ourselves and give it to him. We give up our calling, our dreams, our identities, and our mission and begin to take on his calling, his dreams, his identity, and his mission. And we become his special possession.

And that calling, that identity, that mission that he calls us to is spelled out in the ending of verse 9, “that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” That we may proclaim the love, mercy, forgiveness, grace and compassion of Jesus to all people. That we could proclaim the freedom that life in the Kingdom is about. And that, like Peter says only 1 chapter later, “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,”

So let’s talk about what it might look like in our everyday reality to live this identity of being chosen people, royal priesthood, holy nation and God’s special possession. Let’s talk about how these things can give us true identity. And let’s talk about how these things play out in the world, in our missional Kingdom life and who we might be called to be a priest to (a people, a place, etc..)

1. What thoughts, comments, insights, questions, push back, etc.. do you have regarding the Scripture text and/or the message?

2. What does this Scripture say to you about who you are in Christ and in your sense of identity? How does knowing these things (in your head) make a difference in your heart? What impact can this make tomorrow when you get out of bed?

3. To where or to whom might God be calling/sending you to be a priest to? How might/could you “declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” to the people or place God is calling/sending you?

4. What is God saying to you and what are you going to do about it? What is God saying to us and what are we going to do about it?