Friday, November 2, 2012

Who Are We

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

“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.” 1 Peter 2:9

Photo by Margot Cioccio 

Its funny we can understand something in our heads and even agree it is a good idea but suddenly we are faced with having to re-think who we are because we have identified who we are with what we do. That transition time from what you used to do to what you will do is always awkward and sometimes uncomfortable. This 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 cause 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. Ok I know you are thinking thats the Old Testament and we are under a new and better New Covenant through our relationship with Jesus.
So here is the New Testament equivalent to this verse. Its 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. 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. We become holy through our association with him. Its not something we take off and put on. It is not by walling ourself off from the dirty world in a spiritual box. We read words like holy and we get all religious 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. To become what God always intended for us to be. Here are some things I found in  the Dictionary of Bible Themes. (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 liked this quote I found in one 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 in our life to shine. That happens everyday in the daily, ordinary stuff of life. Not just as when we do some great spiritual exploit.  

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 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. 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.

Lord help us to know you more, help us to understand better your desires for each of us. Help us to accept all that you have done in our behalf. Help us to offer up spiritual sacrifices, to intercede and to represent you before the people who are part of our day today. Help us better understand who we are in you.

Bells Poster 7x5
Bells Poster 7x5 by MargotsDesigns
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