Tag Archives: gospels

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!

That time Jesus purposefully wanted to confuse the audience

10 Jul

My family and I started gardening a couple years ago.  When we lived in a city rowhome we filled a couple 5-gallon buckets with dirt, planted some tomatoes and peppers and stuck them on our second floor outdoor balcony.  Our backyard butted up against a neighboring house that blocked out the sun, so the buckets were a first feeble attempt…and failure.  When we moved to our current home with a backyard and garden, we were excited to give it a new try.  We’ve made lots of mistakes like when we picked our pumpkins in August because we had planted too early.  Each year we learn a bit more, like the need to plant our baby tomatoes far enough away from one another that they don’t become a tangled mess.

We have family and friends that have been very helpful in coaching us about gardening.  They have been a great help, and our garden is all the better for it.

This week our study in Luke gets into gardening.  In Luke 8:1-15, Jesus tells a parable from the world of agriculture, which was a huge part of his society.

I wonder how people in the crowd felt that day.  They came to hear a powerful orator, and what he gave them amounts to Gardening 101.  Check it out for yourself:

While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, he told this parable: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.”

You pretty much get that lesson in preschool when you plant a seed in a Dixie cup and bring it home to grow on the kitchen windowsill.

Why would Jesus waste his time, and the crowd’s time, and all that ink and paper in those bajillion Bibles over the centuries on a lesson in basic farming?

Plant in good soil, get rid of rocks and weeds, and you’ll have a good shot at a harvest.  Is that all he said?

Nope, Luke tells us that after Jesus told the parable to the crowd, he called out, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”  That clarify it for you?  Some of you might have heard this parable before, but imagine being there in the crowd hearing it for the first time.  How would you have felt?  Would you be frustrated that all you got was basic gardening principles?  Would you be seeking for deeper meaning?  Would you assume that this famous, powerful spiritual teacher must have meant something more?  Would it help when he says “whoever has ears to hear, let them hear?”

It seems at least Jesus disciples were questioning like that, because they ask him what the parable meant.  Think he tells them?

He responds to them with this “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that, ‘though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand’.”

Doesn’t it sound like he is basically saying “I don’t want the crowds to know what this parable means”?  How many speakers get up to speak, give a cryptic speech that no one understands, and feel like that was mission accomplished?  How many speakers desire to confuse their audiences?  Sure seems like that’s what Jesus was doing, doesn’t it?

Or was he?

If you’re not already part of a worship gathering, or you’re just curious to hear the rest of the story, please feel free to come to Faith Church on Sunday.