Democratizing the Priesthood

In 1 Peter 2:4-10 Peter shares some thoughts about our identity in Christ. One of the things he says in those verses is that the recipients of his letter are a “royal priesthood.” He is not saying the elders are or the ministers are or some special class of people. Peter is saying that Christians are royal priests. Those are two words American Protestants do not typically use or spend much time thinking about…royalty and priests. Those words sound exclusive. They sound like a special class of people who are over other people. But Peter democratizes the priesthood by saying it is no longer relegated to one small tribe among one small people in one small country in the world in one small town…we are God’s priests…royal because we are priests of the kingdom.

When Jesus was crucified and died…something spectacular and symbolic took place. The curtain in the temple was torn in two (Matt 27:51). What was once limited access to God…the high priest, only on the day of atonement, entering the Most Holy place because access to the divine presence to all God’s people. We no longer need special people to intercede for us because we have direct access to God as Christ and the Spirit are both present to intercede for us to the Father without the need for any human intermediaries.

What does all of this mean for us? We expect priestly, minister type people to have some sort of extra measure of holiness…it is one thing when a “member” sins but quite another level of difficulty when a minister or elder does the same thing. That will always be the case on some level but we must realize that we are all priests of the Most High and that we should realize our need for personal holiness. It should put the worldly things in our lives in perspective and encourage us to wrestle with and deal with the sin in our lives in a much more intentional way.

If you remember back to Sinai, God told them to put a barrier around the mountain because it was holy and anyone who approached it and touched it would die. Well, we are not only God’s royal priesthood but we are also temples of God (2 Cor 6:16)…we also, then must put a barrier around our lives to keep sin and impurity away because “we are Sinai” as God dwells in us through His Spirit. So be careful how you live and realize who and whose you are!

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