The Church Jesus Is Building: A Royal Priesthood

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February 23, 2022

1 Peter 2:9-10 NIV

9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 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.

CONSIDER THIS

1. Chosen people 2. Royal Priesthood. 3. Holy Nation. 4. God’s Special Possession. 

So if we are making the shift from the bounded set approach to the Church Jesus is building (which I don’t believe is the Church he is building) to the centered set approach, it means we switch from policing the boundaries to blazing paths toward the center. This is priestly work. It’s why the path moves from a chosen people to a royal priesthood. 

For starters, what is a priest? My simplest definition would be a person acting with agency and authority who represents God to people and people to God—working to embody and effect an exchange of life, light and love between them. I love the way Dan Wilt (aka Master Yoda) said it in his Daily Text series on the Holy Spirit. I want you to relish every word of this: 

“In the Biblical ideal, a “priest” is a holy, set-apart one, a true meeting place of heaven and earth, an image-bearing, human sanctuary who embodies unbroken worship and unceasing covenant loyalty. A priest is to be one who, anointed by the Spirit, nurtures and facilitates the connection between God and people. A priest is to take another’s hand to guide the way to wholeness in relationship with God. A priest is to lead a heart to embrace God’s great story of rescue and restoration—with all its personal and corporate implications. A priest is one who calls God’s people to worship in spirit and in truth, to maintain covenant love, and to thereby resist idolatry—and the injustice, dehumanization, and spiritual disorientation that inevitably follows it.”

Wow! Thanks Dan! 

In short, a royal priest moves about among the human race, helping to orient people with the King who sits on the throne at the center of it all. You are a living signpost pointing people to our King and Good Father and helping them get there. To hold your hand is to feel the clasp of mercy. To listen to your voice is to hear the sound of grace. To be in your presence is to smell the fragrance of Christ. To behold your countenance is to share in very Peace of Jesus. To sit with you at table is to taste and see that the Lord is good. You, priest, are a living reminder of the love of God, a way finder for the lost and a way maker for the weary. Instead of giving directions you walk with them along the road. At times you will seem to follow their lead in the wrong direction, patiently waiting for them to come to the end of their broken self and make the turn toward home. At other times, you stand at the end of the road, seeing beyond its winding ways, with your eyes peeled on the horizon looking for the fragile frame of returning sons and daughters—ready to run at the drop of a hat. 

These priests don’t wear robes and collars. (O.K. some of them do). These priests wear ordinary clothes. In fact, they wear what you are wearing, right now. How do I know? Because these priests are you, dear friend. I am describing you. The royal priesthood is not the clergy. It includes them but they are actually a very small part of this vast throng. In my assessment, one of the greatest devastations to the Royal Priesthood has been the clericalising of the church (i.e. delegating the ministry to the professionals). More on that tomorrow. 

So now you know. You have a job to do—all day long today, and tomorrow and the next day. It is simple and yet challenging. You are a Royal Priest. I’m thinking of starting a school for Royal Priests. But wait! Hang on. That’s already been done. It’s called the Church Jesus is Building! ;0) 

THE PRAYER

Jesus, you are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. Make me into your royal priest. That is my ambition Jesus, to represent you to people and people to you. I want to be all those things described above. Something tells me if I keep my eyes fixed on you, the Holy Spirit will shape me to become like you. I want to be a meeting place of heaven and earth. Praying in Jesus name, Amen. 

THE QUESTION

Do you think of yourself as a priest? How about a royal priest? Why or why not? Are you inspired to live into this reality? What holds you back? 

P.S. Join Us For An Ash Wednesday Gathering Online

I want to invite you to join us for our upcoming gathering, A Night With New Room: Ash Wednesday. It will be online on Wednesday, March 2, 6:30pm CST and will run just over an hour. It will be available to see on demand following. We will be led by Steve Cordle (author of our Lent Resource The Jesus Shaped Life), Jessica Lagrone, Lo Alaman, Mark Swayze, and I will be there too. It is a free event but you will need to register to participate. Do that here. 

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt
Sower-in-Chief
seedbed.com

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Farmer. Poet. Theologian. Jurist. Publisher. Seedbed's Sower-in-Chief.

3 COMMENTS

  1. “That you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light”. The key word in that statement for me is “called “. In my opinion, for far too long the idea of a Christian calling has been reserved to the clergy alone. The same can be said about the word minister. These ideas are so embedded within the Church that it will face a lot of resistance to bring these words back to their correct Biblical meanings. As Steve has already pointed out, the same can be said about “church “. This will entail an uphill battle, but I believe these terms will need to be reclaimed for their proper meanings or else folks will be confused about what is being said.

    • Great comment, Bob. I once went through the New Testament and read every verse that contained the word “called.” I couldn’t find one mention of the very popular Christian phrase, “called to preach.” However, I did find the words, ‘called to be saints.” I concluded that all Christians are called to fully follow and obey the living Jesus. There are no part-time Christians in the Bible. It’s a full time calling to all.

      Now what about preaching? The New Testament does ask this question: “How can anyone preach unless they be sent?” Once we’re called to follow Jesus, we are “sent” (not called) to preach and testify about Him. Let’s do what Jesus said and all “go” preach. The Great Commission must stop being hindered by the clergy/laity misunderstanding!

  2. All Christ-followers are called to be networkers–to help people connect personally with the living, resurrected Jesus and to have an intimate, direct relationship with Him that doesn’t depend on a special, religious man to lead them. This biblical concept is what the Protestants called “the priesthood of the believer.”

    However, instead of demonstrating the priesthood of all believers (that you beautifully describe in this post), the Protestants set up a hierarchy similar to the Catholic and Orthodox churches. Luther even called this special group of Christians “priests,” although most other Protestant groups called them by other names: “pastors,” “ministers,” “preachers,” etc. Thus, they separated the people of God into two distinct groups (or classes) of Christians–clergy and laity.

    I’m definitely inspired to live into this reality and let nothing hold me back. It’s such an exciting thing to fellowship and interact with all Christins as equals, with no hierarchy, following the living Jesus instead of men, organizations, and religious programs. Everybody should try it. It’s truly awesome. “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” “As many as are led by the Spirit (the living Jesus), these are the children of God.”

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