Sometimes people have bizarre reactions when they learn I am a pastor. If they had been cursing, once they find out I’m a pastor, they’ll over-apologize and try to stop. Often they’ll ask where Faith Church is and talk about how they’ll visit some Sunday.
Even people within our church family can have strange reactions. At a church meal, they’ll often wait for me to pray for the meal before they start eating. Or if they get sick and go to the hospital, they’ll want me to visit. I could go on an on with stories like that. I’m just a regular guy, so even after nearly 16 years in ministry, I’m still often surprised by these reactions to me. Pastors aren’t special pray-ers or visitors, but people often think we are, elevating us to a higher plane of spirituality.
As we saw yesterday, Peter taught against this idea when he said that all Christians are royal and holy priests. Not just pastors. Not just missionaries. Not just Bible teachers. Every single Christian is a priest! We’re all on the same level in God’s eyes. Sure, we have different gifts and different roles. I am so thankful for this teaching about all Christians being part of the holy, royal priesthood. As a pastor, I think way too much focus is placed on me. All Christians need to learn how they are priests. But how?
In our continuing study of 1st Peter 2:4-10, Peter explains our priestly identity, which we will look at today, and he explains our priestly responsibility, which we will look at tomorrow. So for today, what is our priestly identity?
First Peter says we are holy. He was telling the Christians in his day that they are set apart. It doesn’t mean “holy” in the sense that they are perfect. It means they are set apart for a special purpose.
They are a “people belonging to God,” he says, and “a people of God.” We all need to see ourselves that way. A special people, belonging to God, set apart for a purpose, which we will look at tomorrow.
Here we can start to see Peter’s flow of thought into verses 11-12 which we already covered a few weeks ago when we talked about the theme of aliens and strangers. People who have been built on the foundation of Jesus need to see that that are so precious in God’s eyes. Though we might be strangers and aliens in the world’s eyes, we are people who belong to God!
Another way that Peter says they are holy or set apart or special is that they have received God’s mercy. How amazing! You are loved by God. He has shown mercy to you! How has he shown mercy? God has shown his mercy by making it possible for us to become living stones. Read about that here.
That is the first way Peter teaches that all Christians are priests: you are a holy priesthood.
Second, he says we are a royal priesthood.
Royal? Did you know, Christians, that you are royal?
You’re like Meghan Markel. Remember her? She recently married Prince Harry, and is now known as the Duchess of Sussex. She doesn’t have royal blood so she cannot be called “Princess.” That is a title she can earn eventually. William and Kate’s children, however, were called princes and princess at birth. They have royal blood.
When Christians consider our relationship to Jesus, we’re like Meghan Markel. We weren’t born of royal blood. We were adopted into it. Or as Peter says, we are reborn into God’s family, and thus we are now children of the king, with the rights and privileges of royalty.
Think about how special God views you!
If I were to guess, most of us would never think, “I am a holy, royal priest in God’s Kingdom.” We don’t see ourselves that way. I suspect we don’t think of ourselves that way because we are humble or feel unworthy. Humility is respectable. But Peter is saying, “You actually are holy, royal priests in God’s Kingdom,” and because of that we all need to see ourselves that way.
But note that the world will not see us that way, and we shouldn’t try to get them to! Being a holy royal priest of God doesn’t mean that we go around saying that! “Look at me, I’m a holy, royal priest!” That would be really weird or arrogant. Instead, we stay humble. We know that God looks at us as holy royal priests, and so we gratefully and humbly serve him. Jesus, our great high priest, gave us the pattern for how live in his Kingdom when he washed the disciples’ feet and gave his life as a sacrifice.
So all you Christians, your identity is holy, royal priests. Yeah, it is an unexpected identity. But take on that identity. And tomorrow we’ll see how Peter describes our priestly responsibility.