Saturday, June 9, 2012

A Kingdom of Priests

Happy Saturday  - I'm giving you a bonus post that I wrote this week for Healing Stream Media's blog. I have been asked to be one of the members of a blog team. I have the Friday slot each week.  I will probably re-post them here on Saturday if I write something new, to try and keep a record of my devotional writing in one place. Here's the link if you would like to check out the Healing Stream team blog.

A Kingdom of Priests
The idea of identifying who we are with what we do is so prevalent in our society. You ask someone to tell you about themselves and they start listing of things that they do. So I started digging into my bible because I knew I wanted to write about this topic. Who are we?, what were we created for?

Which lead me first to Exodus 19:5 Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth  is mine, 6 you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’
Treasured…belonging to God….a kingdom of priests what does that really look like. Here is the New Testament equivalent to this verse found in 1 Peter 2:5  (NIV1984)
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.  I flipped over to see what that verse looked like in the Message.
Present yourselves as building stones for the construction of a sanctuary vibrant with life, in which you’ll serve as holy priests offering Christ-approved lives up to God.
Did your brain read that and think – holy = angels on fluffy white clouds, or did you think becoming holy means need to spend more time at church praying and doing holy things. Or did it make you feel like you’ll never make the cut?  Honestly, I think most of us are missing the boat here.  Holy is what God is. It is not something he puts on and takes of. He is Holy. God does not do Holy things, He is, in and of Himself totally holy.  We become holy through our association with him not by doing holy things or avoiding un-holy things. Its not something we take off and put on. It does not happen by walling ourself off from the dirty world in a spiritual box. We read words like holy and we get all religious and up tight and think we are some how able to clean our selves up and make ourselves some how presentable to approach a holy God. Our righteousness is like filthy rags before a Holy God.   Heres a News Flash  – You can’t do it. You will never be clean enough, holy enough, spiritual enough, kind enough, good enough…________ enough to reach the measure of Gods holiness standard. He provides one way. That one way is Jesus.
Even Jesus cries out to God – if there is another way – let this cup pass from me. There is not another way or Jesus would have done it.
So lets stop and think for a moment because I don’t believe that Gods purpose is for us to become all stuffy and religious. I believe his plan for our holiness is that we become vibrant and full of life. That through our association with him we begin to realize who and what we were crated to be. That we find the courage and the faith to step out of the old dead life into a new and vibrant one in Him. His desire is that we become what God always intended for us to be. Here are some things I found in  the Dictionary of Bible Themes on what God desires for us to be. (The Dictionary stuff is in bold along with the reference links  – everything else is my thoughts about the topic.)

A kingdom of priests that reflect the holiness of their God  1Pe 1:15 See also Heb 10:10
“No thing or person is holy in itself, but becomes holy as it is placed in relation to God”
(H. Ringgren, The Prophetical Conception of Holiness
I found another quote in an on-line commentary but lost the page before I recorded the reference. “Things are separate because they are holy, not holy because they are separate. Only in virtue of its relationship to God did anything become holy and thus be regarded as separate.”
We get that all backwards – God never meant for us to be huddled away in our churches afraid to go out an live our lives for fear of getting our holiness dirty. He wants us to live life, do what we do fully and allow His presence to shine there. That happens everyday in the daily, ordinary stuff of life, not just as when we do some great spiritual exploit.  Because of Jesus our holiness is not something we can compartmentalize. When take God’s holiness in us into un holy places we and everyone around starts to feel uncomfortable. I heard that the Jesus People in Chicago had commented to someone that when they move into a rough neighborhood things there should and do begin to change. We are not supposed to keep God’s holiness all locked away but take it out into the world and to allow it to cause things to be transformed.

They are to offer spiritual sacrifices 1Pe 2:5 See also Ro 12:1; Php 4:18; Heb 13:15
I think we need a bigger definition of worship – it is so much more than being in church singing songs. It is whatever we do for the least of these – we’ve done it unto Jesus. You don’t have to wait to get to church on Sunday to worship, worship him with your entire life. I love Mother Teresa’s take on this that I picked up while doing a Mother Teresa marathon and reading numerous books by and about her life. She looked at every person and saw them as Christ himself and as a result she treated each as if it was the Lord himself standing before her. As such she poured her life out in worship as she served the least, the lost, the broken, the marginalized, the oppressed.
They are to intercede for others before God 1Ti 2:1 See also Rev 5:8,10
We are able to inter the very presence of God with our prayers. As we see things that are messed up we are to take those things before our God. We don’t have to quit daily life and find some spiritual moment to pray. We are to pray with out ceasing. As we are going through our day we should have a on going dialog going on with the Holy Spirit. We live in a world full of people who have no access to God. It is His kindness that leads them to repentance and that kindness is most often poured out through us. We may not have on our person the resources to meet every need, but we do on every occasion, have access to God to present that need to him so that he can work it out. It may be our part of the equation to bring the need before God. It might be for another of His people to bring what is needed.

They are to represent God before other human beings 2Co 5:20 See also Eph 3:7-11 I look at that list and I don’t see it as a life sentence, or something that we have to strive to become. We have been created in the image of God. We become holy as we associate with him. We can’t associate with him unless we accept what Jesus has already done for us. He paid the price for our sin and brokenness. We are to live holy lives in him as the Holy Spirit fills and empowers us to do so. If we let God’s holiness into our own dark places it begins to transform them. If we associate with broken and lost people the holiness in us begins to transform them. Gods holiness should spill out in us in all we are, and everything we do. Its not that we are holy and good on Sunday and the rest of the week we go back to being carnal. We are made holy 24/7.  Sure there is an on going cleansing and sanctification that continues through out our entire life with Christ. We are still holy because He is holy and his holiness can’t help but rub off on us as we allow him to be more and more a part of our life in Him. As he transforms our lives, we represent God and his transforming power to others.
Personal Prayer: Dear Lord, I invite you into the places in my life that are still shadowed in darkness. Help me see those places that I have walled off from you thinking they are just too shameful and too messy for you to have anything to do with. Help me to find the courage to allow you into more of those places. Lord thank you that you are patient and your work in us in on going. Thank you that because of Jesus we are set apart as holy and belonging to you. Help us to step out to become a kingdom of priest who vibrantly live their lives and allow your holiness into every part.
Intercessory Prayer: (Prayer for others) Dear Lord I lift before you friends who now come to mind that are still trapped in darkness. I pray I would bring your light of hope and the power of your transforming holiness when I am around them. I pray that your holiness in me would cause them to realize there is something different about us and to want to know what it is. Help them to notice your light and to want to reach out to it. Lord I also pray for the neighborhood or place in the world where darkness very thick that has come to mind. I pray that your light would break through in that place. Lord help me to go into such places and bring the light of your holiness, truth and justice that they may be transformed because I took a step of faith to be there.

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