February 25, 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.
1. Chosen people 2. Royal Priesthood. 3. Holy Nation. 4. God’s Special Possession.
Today we come to a third major feature of the Church Jesus is building—a holy nation. Before we talk about the meaning of this, let’s talk about what it does not mean. The whole concept of nation has come to mean many things over the years. For starters, and most readily it means a geopolitical territory marked by land and borders. The “Holy Nation” Peter refers to is not a geopolitical territory marked by land and borders.
The term “nation” has also come to represent any grouping of people who are held together by some kind of tribal loyalty or affiliation. Most every university with a football team now refers to themselves as “Hog Nation” or “Gator Nation” and so forth. I have even found myself referring to Seedbed Daily Text subscribers as “Sower Nation” on occasion. This concept of nation loosely translates to the notion of a “tribe.” That is closer to what Peter means but still a miss.
The Church Jesus is building is a Holy Nation that transcends any and every national border and it blows tribes and tribalism out of the water. The term Peter used for the English term “nation” is “ethnos.” It means a distinct people group. So if this nation’s distinctiveness is not based around nationality, ethnicity, tribal loyalty, culture, language, family of origin or any of the other usual markers of identity, what makes it identifiable and distinctive? That is the question isn’t it?
You are a . . . holy nation. . . .
Let’s remember how Peter opened this letter.
To God’s elect, exiles scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, 2 who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood: 1 Peter 1:1-3
Exiles. Scattered. These are the two main things that would seem to go against nationhood. Add that to the geographical dispersion (or diaspora) of all the places he names. What do these people even have in common? They don’t even know each other. d
You are a . . . holy nation. . . .
So is it their holiness that unites them? This is where the church goes south. This is where we get back to the bounded set, because holiness quickly reverts to behavior and image management and who is in and who is out and the circle keeps getting smaller and smaller until its just a few Pharisees holding a rule book in the end. It’s not the rules that these scattered exiles have in common. It’s the Ruler. In the New Testament, Holy means one thing and one thing only.
It’s all Peter can talk about. By my count, he references Jesus no less than thirty-eight times in these five short chapters of his letter. Here’s what Peter wants us to know. Holiness is a person. When he says, “Be holy as I am holy,” Peter knows the “I am” is Jesus. He knows the only way to be holy as Jesus is holy is to be filled with the Spirit of Jesus, who is the Spirit of holiness.
And one more thing Peter knows. He knows the holiness of Jesus is a contagious holiness. In the old understanding, if something or someone unholy touched a holy thing or person, the holy person or object became unholy. With Jesus it is just the opposite. Everything and everyone the Holy One touches (no matter their condition) becomes holy.
Jesus people of the world, unite. You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, indeed God’s special possession.
Jesus, you are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. You are not only holy, you are the very holy of holies, the most holy place. You are the resplendent holiness of God who makes the unclean clean, who makes the unholy holy, who causes the blind to see, the lame to walk, even the dead to rise. We would exchange our idea of holy for your vision of holiness. We want you Jesus. We want to be part of the holy nation. Come Holy Spirit and make it so. Praying in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Doesn’t it strike you as so much easier and infinitely more refreshing to fix your eyes on Jesus, to lift your heart to Jesus, to set your mind on Jesus, to offer your body to Jesus, than to focus on whether you are being holy enough or not? Holiness is the fruit of his presence in you.
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,