Summary: What does it mean to be a part of a holy nation, a people belonging to God, the priesthood of all believers?
CALLED TO BE A PRIEST
As many of you know I come from a very strong Irish Catholic family with lots of aunts, uncles, and cousins. Several of my mom’s relatives are Nuns and Priests, and a few on my dad’s side as well. Growing up in my family as in all Good Irish Catholic families there was no calling in life more thrilling than the call to be a priest. In fact my father confessed to me, after I became a minister, that he had prayed from the very beginning of his marriage that one of his children would serve the Lord. I wasn’t exactly what he bargained for, but he was proud of me anyway.
Priests and nuns were so wanted in many of these families for several reasons. It brought great honor to the family. It was seen as a very high calling in life. In Catholicism religious workers have historically had a much greater respect than in the familiar world of protestant churches. They were seen as set apart for a holy work, and so therefore, they were expected to keep themselves pure, free from the entanglements of most people’s lives. It was a life of sacrifice and surrender of all that you have and are to God.
It is interesting as we study scripture that God’s original plan for His chosen people, the Israelites, was that they would be a nation of priests.
Turn with me to Exodus 19:5-6. They were a nation set apart by God, called to be a holy people, a nation of priests who would point the rest of the world towards God. But they lost that vision. Instead ‘clergy’ were established and the people became dependant on the Levites and the Priests. They were set apart as the Holy ones. They taught the law. They spoke for God. The average person did not have this sense of ‘calling’ upon their lives.
Now we come to the Church Age – the New Israel made up of Jew and Gentile. The word of God prophesied of this age saying “our sons and our daughters would prophecy – they would speak God’s word to one another”. Where before the Holy Spirit came temporarily upon a few individuals – now it falls upon all those who believe. Where before a few were gifted for ministry, now the whole body of Christ is gifted for ministry. Where before there were priests and levites, now we have the priesthood of all believers!.
Over the centuries the church slipped back into its “clergy” mentality. Once again you had the professional “Holy” people. The time has come for us as a people of God to rekindle God’s original vision that we would be a Holy Nation – a royal priesthood.
Please turn with me to I Peter 2:9-10
1. Begin to view yourself as uniquely ‘called’ to be a priest!
I especially want to address the men of the church this morning. I am asking you to begin to view your life in a totally new, radical way! I believe that it is critical that we in the church, and especially men, begin to view our lives differently. We need to begin to see ourselves not just as Christians. Viewing yourself as a Christian can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. But it really doesn’t demand much of us. Basically when we view ourselves as Christian’s we are saying, I believe in Jesus. I’ve trusted in Him to save my life. I’m a good person, who goes to Church. I try not to cuss, chew, or spit or go with girls who do.
As men we are the sum total of what we do. We tend to view ourselves from the perspective of our ‘jobs’. One man my say, I’m an electrician. Another might say, I’m a teacher. Some may say, first and foremost, that I am a dad and a husband. These are all good things to say, but they refer more to my duties and my skills. I want to challenge you this morning to begin to think differently about yourself. I want you to begin each day with a new thought: I am a priest of God!
Why do I want you to start thinking this way?
- because being a priest is a calling from God. You do not select this “job” yourself – you are given it by God Himself!
- Look at what Peter says: You are a chosen people (you didn’t choose me – I chose you.) You are a royal priesthood ( I have been given the assignment of serving the King of Kings and Lord of Lords – I am a part of the Palace of God – like a soldier in Buckingham palace, I will conduct myself in a certain manner because I walk among royalty) You are a Holy Nation – there is dignity and duty in this calling from God.