Today we focus on our Christian identity as a Royal Priesthood. When a person puts her/his faith in Jesus and becomes a follower/disciple of Jesus they become part of a Royal Priesthood (1 Peter 2.9) This is something we don’t tend to think about, and if we don’t think about it how can we live out what it means to be a royal priest? Royal priest is not an honorific title or certificate of status to be hung on the wall or put in our trophy cabinet. It is very practical and understanding what it means can revolutionise our approach to Christian living.
What do priests do? In the Old Testament they 1) served God and 2) served the people who worshipped God. Their priestly function was to serve both God and people. In Exodus 19 God says something which was quite unexpected to the whole people of Israel, … you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. (Exodus 19:5–6) Peter linked to this when he wrote, “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.” (1 Peter 2:9) God’s desire to have a royal priesthood continues from the Old Testament into the New Testament and in doing so underlines how significant this is.
The significance of this is further stressed when we understand Jesus is both the Great High Priest and the Servant King. Jesus the Great High Priest is the one who gives greatest service. Jesus made it clear he did not come to be served, but to serve (Mark 10.45) and he asks us to follow his example of humble service (John 13.15).
How, in practice, do we live as royal priests? We do this by serving God and serving others. In this holy place today someone came early to open the doors and turn on the lights so we could enter into a place of worship; someone brought milk so we could have morning tea and enjoy fellowship with each other; someone rehearsed music and another prepared a prayer – all this so we could worship God and be together as his people.
It is not one royal priest doing everything, but every royal priest doing something. We are not isolated, but part of a priesthood, in this together. The 16th century reformers spoke of this as the priesthood of all believers. This is a core belief of the Presbyterian Church.
When you put time, effort and finances into these things you are being a living sacrifice. (Romans 12.1) You could have had an extra hour in bed, but you came in an hour early to rehearse the music. You could have gone out with friends for coffee, but instead you went to help at mainly music. You chose to serve God and the people by … giving generously of your time, skills or finances. So don’t be surprised or offended if you come to church or a church event and someone passes you a cloth to wipe the tables. Or if instead of a menu you are asked to pass out some bibles or bulletins. Doing these things are acts of priestly service which help us express our identity in Christ.
What does being part of this royal priesthood mean for you?
What is your attitude to serving in the life of the church?
How are your acts of service like a living sacrifice?
Rev John Malcolm