Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The People of God

It feels good to belong. Few are the people who are comfortable living on their own in self-imposed seclusion. Most of us have a desire to be involved with other people. We start families, join clubs, and are active in a local church partly because of desire to be with other people, to be part of the group.

What we discover in the second chapter of 1 Peter is that as Christians we do belong to something. In verses 4-8 we discovered that we are living stones which God is using to construct a spiritual blessing. In verses 9-12 Peter switches metaphors. Not only are we God’s building, but we are also God’s people.

But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are a kingdom of priests, God’s holy nation, his very own possession. This is so you can show others the goodness of God, for called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.
"Once you were not a people; now you are the people of God. Once you received none of God’s mercy; now you have received his mercy.”

Dear brothers and sisters, you are foreigners and aliens here. So I warn you to keep away from evil desires because they fight against your very souls. Be careful how you live among your unbelieving neighbors. Even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will believe and give honor to God when he comes to judge the world.
~ 1 Peter 2:9-12; NLT

Apart from God life is a struggle to fit it. To belong requires the right clothes, the right income level, cheering for the right team, and the list could go on. With God we belong simply because God says we do. He has a plan for our lives.

God is in the process of saving, not a person, but a people. When we give our lives to Jesus we become part of the people God has chosen in advance to save. That means we are God’s Chosen People!

We are also a Kingdom of Priests. The primary function of a priest is to act as a mediator between God and man. To be a priest means we have the privilege of standing in the gap between people and God and allowing them to see God’s love through our lives. We offer them a Word from God and we offer up prayers to God on their behalf. It means that we are conscious of the fact that we are God’s representatives on earth and that His works of love and mercy will often happen through our hands. To be part of God’s people means to be priests.

Not only are we called to priests, but we are also called to be foreigners and aliens. While we experience acceptance (at least on God’s behalf) at being part of the Church, we will experience rejection by the world. Not only will the World reject us because of the way we live, but we will also begin to reject more and more of what the world has to offer. We will begin to recognize that what we truly desire is not of this world, but rather it is a relationship with God. The desire of a far distant country, the Promised Land, and Eternal Rest, will grow in our hearts.

We may be just passing though this world, but God still expects us to live in a way that will bring honor to Him. It is important to God that we live in such a way that people who have chosen to reject Him will honor Him when the right time comes. Our lives will be the testimony of whether or not what we said is true.

For Christians who were facing persecution and death because of what they believed these were encouraging words. It reminded them that even though the World had rejected them they were still God’s Chosen People.

I believe this is also a reminder that we need to take to heart. While this World can offer us many distractions, and though our hearts may begin to burn with desire for them, they are just temporary. This World is ultimately just the route we have to take to get to our ultimate destination. If we treat it that way and live our lives trusting in Jesus Christ then we will one day find the desire of our hearts.

We are God’s Chosen People journeying together. What a wonderful place to be!

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