Summary: Peter says we are a royal priesthood. What does that mean for the average church goer? (this sermon had great effect to prompt members to greater involvement in the church.)
OPENING: On the overhead projection we put up a cartoon showing a crazed man being led away from a church in a straightjacket. On the steps of the church building the preacher comments to another man “I’m going to miss Louis - he volunteered for everything.”
COMMENT: As funny as that cartoon is, there are many people who believe it is humorous because it depicts reality. They believe it is possible for a person to volunteer for so many things within the church that it can literally “drive them crazy.”
But that’s not true, and I can prove it. For, if it were true - that being “too involved” is what makes people “crazy” - then every preacher in every pulpit of every congregation in the land would need to be outfitted with straightjackets.
Of all the people within a church, the preacher is often THE most committed and involved of any. I knew of one preacher who was so driven that he set up his treadmill with a book stand so that he could read his Bible or other study books while he did his daily walks.
And if this cartoon depicted reality, then many of you within this congregation would be irritable and difficult to be around, because many of you are highly committed to serving God.
No. It’s been my experience that the “more involved” a person is in ministry, the more satisfied and fulfilled that person is - not the other way around.
People do get frustrated serving God. Sometimes it’s because they are faced with difficult circumstances, or difficult people, or a shortage of resources. But even those frustrations can be overcome if God’s people understand two things:
1. Who they are, and
2. Why they are doing what they do.
Peter addresses that issue by telling us that God has given us a special status in His kingdom:
1 Peter 2:5 "...you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ."
1 Peter 2:9 "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light."
You and I are priests of God.
Back in the Old Testament, a priest was a very special person.
o They were “go-betweens” for men and God
o They led in worship and taught from the Scriptures
o They wore special robes that distinguished them from other worshippers
o Only they could handle the holy things of God (incense, sacrifices, the furniture of the tabernacle – anything related to worship)
o They had a distinctive initiation before entering their office
§ They bathed in water
§ Put on a new robe
§ And were anointed as marks of their office (ex. 29)
o And not just everyone could become a Priest - you had to born of the tribe of Levi
AND now, Peter tells us that we are a “a holy priesthood” (vs. 5) and a “royal priesthood” (vs. 9)
Peter was not the only one to tell us that. John wrote in Revelation: Jesus “… has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father…” (Revelation 1:6)
And Isaiah prophesied hundreds of years before Jesus was born in the manger, that under the New Covenant you and I would “be called priests of the LORD, you will be named ministers of our God...” (Isaiah 61:6)
So, how have we become like the Old Testament priests?
We have been born of the line of Jesus – our High priest.
And we were set apart for priesthood when we were saved. Just like the Priests of old we were
washed with water and anointed with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38 “repent and be baptized…and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit”)
And just like those priests we have put on a new garment. Galatians 3:27 tells us “all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.”
And now because we are priests of God, we have a right to handle the holy things of God.
We have the privilege of coming before God in prayer
We have the right to touch and partake of communion
We have the right to baptize others into Christ
We have the responsibility of knowing and teaching the Word of God
AND we have no need for anyone other than Jesus to intercede for us before God
That’s what Peter meant when he wrote that you and I are a royal and a holy priesthood…
I. There are people, however, who have problems coming to grips with this idea of priesthood.
When I talk to people that desire to become Christians, I often ask if there is someone who has been important (in their decision to belong to Jesus) that they would like to have baptize them? Occasionally, they’ll look at me in surprise and say, “But, I thought you had to do the baptisms!”