Monday, April 26, 2010

Part of God's People

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 discover that we are living stones which God is using to construct a spiritual building. 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 worl
d ( 1 Peter 2:9-12; NLT).

One of the great concerns of life is the struggle to find a group to which we can belong. To belong requires the right clothes, the right income level, cheering for the right team, voting for the party, or a dozen of things which give us a common experience with other people.  One of God’s purposes for the Church is to give people a place to belong, it would be such a great act of love if we remembered that reality.

I want to remind you that God is in the process of saving, not just 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!

Peter says 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 in order to allow them to see God’s love through our lives. We offer them a word from God, we offer up prayers to God on their behalf, and we serve them in love to meet their needs. This 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 choice to serve people. To be part of God’s people means to be a priest.

Not only are we called to priests, but we are also called to be foreigners and aliens. While we experience acceptance from God as we become part of the Church, we also 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 what this current world has to offer, but rather the new world that God is creating for His people. The desire of a far distant country, the Promised Land and the Eternal Rest, will grow in our hearts.

This world may not be our home, 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 reject God will honor Him when the right time comes. Our lives will be the testimony God’s love and grace so people will realize that they are without excuse.

For Christians who were face persecution and death because of what they believed these were encouraging words. It reminds 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, we need to remember that they are just temporary. This world is ultimately just the route we have to take to get to our ultimate destination, the new heaven and new earth that will be created when Christ Jesus appears again.

We are God’s Chosen People journeying through life together. What a wonderful group to be able to belong to!

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