But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. (NIV)
I love these two verses. It is a great summary of the Gospel, where I was, and my new purpose. God has chosen me, along with all other Christians. That thought can be overwhelming.
When a new president takes office, he chooses his cabinet to serve him and help administer his office according to his policies. Many appointments are people who have shown their support prior to the election. A few are appointed for other political reason.
In some ways it is the same with God. I didn’t apply for the position of royal priest. I had no idea that there was even such a position. But God chose me. Another similarity is that the position of royal priesthood is an appointment to administer God’s policies. A priest is a mediator between God and man. Wait a minute, when Jesus died and the veil was torn, didn’t the requirement for a priest end? Yes it did, for those who know Jesus. However there are billions who don’t know Him and they need a priest. Paul explained it very clearly.
2 Cor 5:18-21 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (RSV)
God has already taken the first step. He has brought me back to himself in a friendly relationship. He has resolved the dispute between us. That restored relationship is available to everyone who is an enemy of God. However, most people don’t realize there is a dispute. Some realize it and just don’t know how to resolve it. They think they have to earn that relationship by their good behavior, rituals, etc. Since God has already made the way, He has called everyone who knows Him to be His ambassadors (or priests) to tell the rest of the world that the way to God is open. The way is through Jesus.
As a priest, I come to God with offerings. Those offerings are the people who I have told about Jesus. As the priest of the O.T. had to prepare the offerings, I have to prepare people to become a living sacrifice. I have to tell them that even though the price has been paid, there are still requirements like repentance and surrender to God. Jesus paved the way to God by taking everyone’s sins on Himself so that they can have the righteousness of God. To receive that gift of righteousness, they must surrender to Him. He is the conquering King and the reconciliation is based on His rules, not man’s. The ambassador or priest clearly describes the policies of the administration: freedom from sin if you are willing to be a slave to God.
Yeah, that’s right, a slave to God. The job of royal priest is a slave’s job. The position of being God’s people is slavery. The reward of being called out of darkness into God’s marvelous light is a slave’s reward. Receiving mercy is a benefit of being a slave as opposed to being an enemy. Rom 6:22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. (NIV) Don’t underestimate the benefits of holiness – the peace that comes with that – as well as eternal life – eternal pleasures at His right hand (Ps 16:11.)