As members of God’s kingdom, we are priests, what Peter calls “living stones,” who participate in God’s transcendent and glorious work to redeem all things. There is not a special class of people designated for this, but God includes us in his work to change the world.
God is transcendent, totally other than any created thing. But God is also absolutely immanent, which means that God is with us, vulnerable to the world. In the same way, we are both immanent and transcendent. We are made from dust, flesh, and blood that is susceptible to decay, but we are also much more than dust. A part of us is beyond decay, as we are united with Christ and therefore something within us is transcendent. This is why Paul tells us not to regard one another from an earthly point of view (2 Corinthians 5:16). There is something sacred within us even though this is easy to forget.
In our focus Scripture, we read that God has made us into a kingdom of priests. We have been designed to participate in his plan to redeem all things. The enemy seeks to steal, kill and destroy because he knows that when we fail to see our priesthood we will forget that our lives actually matter. As a result, we might think that our actions only hurt ourselves, or that our decisions are just part of the way things work in the world. We fail to see that people matter in God’s grand scheme to change the world. In God’s kingdom everyone matters because people matter to a God who is love.
The challenge to the church is avoid the trap of sacerdotalism, where there are specially designated people who serve as priests that do the work of God on behalf of the people. Sacerdotalism tells us that there are some who are supposedly closer to God than the rest of us. But this contradicts what the Bible teaches. God’s kingdom is not a spiritual hierarchy with special people doing special things for people. But as 1 Peter 2:4-5 states, we are all living stones who are priests in the world. God is building something glorious through all of us.
God does not call the qualified. He qualifies the called. God works through average people to participate in transcendent work to change the world. This is demonstrated by Christ who was foolish and weak on the cross to transform all things. What looked like nothing, actually worse than nothing, was God’s grand way to make the biggest difference of all. This was God’s plan from the very beginning, as we read in the story of Moses (Exodus 19:6). At the same time, there has been resistance to this since the time of Moses (Deuteronomy 30). We commonly prefer to “outsource” our priesthood and watch those we designate as “spiritual” do the work for us.
We are all priests and we have been given a job description. It’s not about being good boys and girls. It’s about giving acts of love (Philippians 4:18), offering praise and thanksgiving (Hebrews 13:15) and making our whole selves available as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1). The priesthood occurs in our daily lives, wherever we find ourselves. We do this as we build one another up (Ephesians 4:29). We express our priesthood as we are honest and real (Philippians 1:10). Bearing with one another (Colossians 3:13), doing everything we can to work toward unity, and letting our gentleness become apparent (Philippians 4:5) are also actions of priests. No one on their deathbed is going to say, “I regret all of the time I spent helping others, showing gentleness and building up others.” We will never regret being a priest and participating in what God is doing as God’s living stones.
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