Tag Archives: follow jesus

How all Christians have a responsibility to be priests

6 Jul

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Christians, you are all priests!  All week long we have been looking at some unusual ways Peter describes Christians’ identity and responsibility.  A holy nation, living stones, and now priests!  Yesterday we talked about how Christians can understand their identity as priests.

Now let’s look at how Peter in 1 Peter 2:4-10 describes as our priestly responsibility.  What do priests do?  Peter lists two tasks:

The first task, Peter says in verse 5, is that we offer spiritual sacrifices.  Note that the sacrifices are spiritual.  Peter is talking about the spiritual realm here.  One illustration he mentions about how to make spiritual sacrifices is when he says in verse 9 that we, “declare the praises of God who called us out of darkness into his wonderful light.”

Have you ever heard the lines of the song: “we bring a sacrifice of praise”?  God desires us to praise him.  At first I thought, “Why does God want us to praise him?  Isn’t that a bit self-serving of him?”  It can seem like it.  But in the unexpected, upside-down way of God, praising him turns out to be the best possible way for us to live.

That is important.  Praising God is a lifestyle.  Praising him is not just singing songs during a worship gathering.  We try to emphasize this even about our worship services.  We would be wrong to say that they only part of our worship that is praising God is when we are singing songs.  The correct view is that all the parts of our worship service should be seen as and done as praise to God.

When we place our monetary gifts in the collection baskets, we do it with a heart of praise and thanks to God.

When we greet one another, we do so with a heart of praise to God, thanking him for placing us in a church family with all its variety.

When we share our stories of God’s work in our lives, as we pass around the microphone, we do so with praise and thanks to God.

When we study his Word during the sermon, or in our classes, we do so praising and thanking God that he still speaks.

Every part of our worship service is praise to God.  We emphasize that because we want that attitude of praise to spill out into the rest of our lives.  Drive your car, praising God.  Prepare food in your kitchen, praising God.  Go to work, praising God.  Work hard at work, praising God.  Interact with your friends and family, praising God.  Clean your house, praising God.

That’s how we priests bring a sacrifice of praise: we live lives of praise to God.

The next thing that Peter says holy royal priests do is in verse 12, live good lives. The actual text says, “live such good lives among the rest of the world that they too will see your good deeds and glorify God.”

Holy royal priest live good lives!  How do we live a good life?  I would suggest that Peter is talking about a life of following the way of Jesus.  The good life is how Jesus himself lived. Jesus calls his followers to live like he did.  How, then, did Jesus live?

Discover for yourself by reading the Gospels, the four accounts of Jesus’ life.  Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  Open up space in your life to read about the life of Jesus. It is amazing material. But it will require time.  Netflix can wait.

Your kids can do this too.  Have them take a break from Minecraft or Fortnite.  Read to them the stories of Jesus.  Learn about how Jesus lived.

As you read, pray: “Lord Jesus help me learn how to live like you live.”  Make a bookmark with that prayer, and use it as a reminder to pray that prayer before you read.

What you will find is that the way Jesus lived was very odd.  And amazing. His way is so different from the way of the world.  As you read, discover how you can choose to live differently, and then ask the Holy Spirit to change you, to make you more like Jesus, to live like he did.  Then try it out.  Try to practice kindness and forgiveness when your heart feels anger.  Try to practice love when you have been hurt.  Spend time alone with God like Jesus did.  Invest in helping others like Jesus did.  Speak the word of God like Jesus did.  Practice patience and goodness and self-control.

That’s the good life of Jesus that he invites his holy royal priests to live!

What if we’re totally wrong about what it should look like to follow Jesus? Part 1

30 Oct

We are about to head to the polls again. Who are you for, and who are you against?  Republican?  Democrat?  Third-party?  As the presidential race heats up, who are you for and who are you against?

“For or against” is more than just a way to approach politics.  It is a common way we look at many aspects of life.  Who are you for and who are you against in the World Series?  The Royals or the Mets?  Who are for or against in the big football game?  We use “for or against” reasoning when it comes to reality TV show competitions like The Voice or The Amazing Race.  We use “for or against” reasoning when it comes to our favorite brands, restaurants, and certainly, religion.

So what about Jesus?  Are you for or against him?

You might think, “Against Jesus? Why would you even ask that, Joel? This is a blog introducing a sermon. People who listen to the sermon obviously come to church because they are for Jesus!”  Maybe.  Maybe not…

If you’re thinking something like that, then I hear you. I know that most people who read this blog and come to church are Jesus people and we are for him!

But here’s the concern I have:  what if we think we are for him, but he would look at us and say “You’re not with me. You think you are with me, but you’re actually not”???

How many of us would want to be surprised when we are standing before him and hear him say that?

If you think “Well, that’s not possible, is it?”, I think it is pretty important to raise the question. Is it possible that we would be surprised to hear him say “You think you are for me, but you are actually not”???

In Matthew 7, Jesus tells the story like this: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”

Jesus himself says that there will be people who will be surprised to hear him say “I never knew you.” Those people will look at him shocked, and say “Wait a minute…we prophesied in your name, we drove out demons and did miracles even. That’s a lot of great religious stuff that we did in your name. How can you possibly say that you never knew us??? That makes no sense, Jesus. That is wrong!”

But Jesus says “I never knew you.”

So this Sunday, as we continue our study in Luke, we come to a passage where Jesus addresses this very concern.   And guess what?  You can know whether you are for him or against him. On Sunday we find out how.

Prepare for the sermon on Sunday by reading Luke 11:14-36, and then join us at Faith Church as we discuss this further!