Summary: While God is the centre and the focus of the Kingdom of God, it remains a Kingdom of people. And not just regular, ordinary people, and not all people everywhere, but rather a very privileged, very select, very precious, very holy, very royal people.
A Kingdom of People
1 Pet 2:4-5, 9-12
While God is the centre and the focus of the Kingdom of God, it remains a Kingdom of people. And not just regular, ordinary people, and not all people everywhere, but rather a very privileged, very select, very precious, very holy, very royal people.
As I say those words, most of us automatically exclude ourselves. Our belief is that we aren’t particularly privileged, or select, or precious, or holy, or royal. It must be someone else – it must be some type of sermon trick leading us somewhere surprising. Because, we think, that certainly could not be us.
Well, it is no trick, but it does lead us somewhere surprising to those of us who excluded ourselves. But we’ll come to that in a moment…
An Old Argument:
I have a very clear memory of a time when I was a young teenager, sitting in the back seat of our car driving home from our church, and having an argument with my mom and my older brother. Someone, and I don’t recall who, used a phrase that suddenly struck me as very wrong and out of place – they said, “well, what do they expect, I’m only human…”. And with all my adolescent knowledge of, well, everything, I begged to differ. “We are not only human.” “What are you talking about? What do you think we are – aliens? Magicians?? Superheroes??? We are so only human.” “No we aren’t.” “Umm, yes, actually we are.” “Nope.” “Yup.” “NO! We are not only human – we are children of God! We are so much more than ‘only human’, we should never be satisfied with less, we should never live with less, we should never look at ourselves as anything less, THAT IS WHO WE ARE – children of the King of the Kingdom.”
Of course, looking back now I’m confident that I probably took the whole conversation completely out of context – it was most likely about someone’s unreasonable expectations of something – and I turned it into a theological argument to prove a point that struck my fancy at the moment. And the fact that my theological point was correct was overshadowed by the fact that I annoyed the rest of my family in “proving” the point, and doing so in an inappropriate context.
This morning, I think I can make the same point in a more appropriate context.
This fall we’ve been talking about that most favorite topic of Jesus, and perhaps the least well understood: the Kingdom of God. When I read the teachings of Jesus with an eye to understanding what this “Kingdom of God” thing is, a consistent theme emerges: it is a Kingdom of people, who follow and obey their King, Jesus. It is not a physical Kingdom, though there are definite tangible components. It is not a kingdom for after we die, though then we will enter fully into the Kingdom of God. It is not imaginary, it is real. And it is about people.
Who Are The People?
This morning I want to look at what the Bible says about who those people are, and what that means for how we live. Let’s turn to 1 Pet 2:4-5, 9-12 (NLT).
4 You are coming to Christ, who is the living cornerstone of God’s temple. He was rejected by people, but he was chosen by God for great honor.
5 And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are his holy priests. Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God.
9…you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.
10 “Once you had no identity as a people;
now you are God’s people.
Once you received no mercy;
now you have received God’s mercy.”
11 Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. 12 Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world
Who Is Peter Talking To?
The first question we need to answer in looking at this passage is this: “who is Peter talking to?” That is why I included vs. 4-5, even though we are going to talk most about vs 9-12, because it establishes the audience. Who are these people? They are those who are “coming to Christ.” They are those who offer, through Jesus, “spiritual sacrifices that please God” – in other words, those who worship God. That is why we gathered here this morning, to bring our offering of worship that would, through the help of Jesus, “please God,” and I know that most of us would describe ourselves as “coming to Christ”, so we can be pretty confident that Peter is talking to us.