1 Peter 2:9-12
November 12, 2017
My mommy has always thought I was special, even if I didn’t feel that way. My grades weren’t as good as my brothers; I got into more trouble than my brother; I wasn’t as cute as my younger sisters. Even so I have always known that I was special in my mommy’s eyes. Even at age 49, I can tell she is smiling when she is talking to me 1,700 miles. I have thought for a long time that my mommy’s love for me has more to do with her and her qualities than mine. I bet you can relate.
Better than a mommy’s love is the Father’s love. I know that through faith you understand that you are special, and that you are loved. But do you know how special you are to the Father? Do you know how loved you are by the Father? Do you understand how highly the Father thinks of you? It is not a stretch at all to say that I am in the presence of some of the most special people God ever made. Neither is it a stretch to say that I am in the presence of some of the most beloved people of God to ever walk this earth. Put plainly, I am in the presence of royalty.
And even though you are so loved and blessed you are not bratty. You are not entitled or spoiled. You are not holier than thou. What a special group of people you are and what a privilege it is for me to be with you today. It is also necessary for me to say that what you are, or what God has made you to be, is the result of His character and not our own.
Knowing the love of a loving mommy, didn’t you want to love her back? Knowing the love of this heavenly Father, don’t you just want to love her back?
“But you are a chosen people…” It would be enough to know that God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son: if a mother can love each child in her family our Father can love each of us. We have four children, my mother would have loved five. God so loved the world… But he didn’t just love the world; he loved you in particular in that he sought you out and brought you to faith. He wanted you.
Before the world was created…before a star appeared in the sky…before God put fish in the sea and birds in the air…before God hand‐crafted Adam and Eve and placed them in the garden…God chose you to be a member of his believing family.
You are a chosen people and a “royal priesthood.” Royalty. I’m guessing you don’t feel much like royalty. I’m guessing people likely don’t treat you like royalty either. This sinful world doesn’t recognize you as such. The world might even get a good laugh at us because of our faith in Jesus, but your home is heaven and God is your true Father. You are not just a commoner or an underling in this family. You are part of the priesthood.
“A royal priesthood.” These words might bring to mind pictures of the Old Testament priests with their hands bloodied from sacrificing animals or lifting their hands toward heaven in prayer. Old Testament priests were the mediators, the “go-between” people between God and mankind. But Jesus’ death on the cross and payment for mankind’s sin erased the barrier between God and mankind. No longer does someone need a mediator to access God, because in Jesus all believers can access God directly. All believers are priests, royal priests, because they belong to the King and Creator of all things.
You don’t sacrifice animals. But here’s what you do offer to God: repentant hearts, prayers for ourselves and others, prayers for the spread of the gospel. In a very real way our God has equipped us with real skills to be used to serve him and others and each one of us serves him and others. And you yourself know what a joy it is to serve, to just serve. You, a royal priesthood, are a special people.
You are a “holy nation.” You’ll hear this pastor say that holy is to be without sin and that is true. But at it’s core, to be holy refers to something that is set apart for God’s purpose. God’s people in this original letter written by Peter were scattered around the world, and some them were fleeing for their safety. And yet, they were still set apart from the world in God’s eyes.
You are “God’s special possession.” You are God’s person possession. Kings in Peter’s day would have a special treasury set aside for themselves in the case of attack, theft, revolt or robbery. Through Jesus, you are God’s special, personal possession protected by him from the attacks of sin, Satan, and death. You belong to the King of kings, who gave everything to make you his own forever. All of that opposes you cannot defeat you or take you away from this King.
“A chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession.” Do you understand how loved and blessed you are? You might object, “I was always the last one chosen when we chose sides for kickball in grade school.” You are the first pick in the first round of God’s draft. You might think, “I was never very good at sports, or scholastics, or gym. . So, it might be true you could have failed study hall in high school.” Holy is your status. Without sin is holy. Set apart by God for God is holy. You may say, “I don’t feel special” for whatever reason.
Whoever gave us permission to doubt God’s work? Whoever gave us permission to question the effectiveness of his work? I still don’t feel special. I’m still a sinner. I’m not worth choosing. That’s why this is born of God’s grace. In Jesus, God chooses you and says, “That’s my guy, or that’s my girl.” He is not embarrassed in the least to call you his own. And so dedicated is he to you that he does everything in his power to look after you and care for you. You are the apple of his eye and he will not let you out of his sight. He will even send his angels to watch over you and keep you from harm. You are his most treasured possession. You and the person next to you.
It was at great expense to himself that God chose us and bought us. His Son’s punishment on the cross saved us from the punishment and damnation we deserve. You are royalty--a royal priest, with your own access to the throne of God in prayer. You are holy--declared holy: without sin, set apart by God for service to God. You are his special possession, the apple of his eye. You are the cream of the crop, the first round draft choice, a special possession, holy.
You special people have a special purpose: that you “may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” You who have gone from the darkness of unbelief to the light of faith declare now his praises. God has transformed you from curse-provoking enemies to his praise-proclaiming people.
So, what does that look like in everyday life? Peter explains, “Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world....” You are not a child of the darkness anymore. You know the difference between darkness and light and you want to live in His light. “Dear friends, I urge you… to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.” We are tempted to think a little greed or a little lust is no big deal, but sinful thoughts are darkness. Peter warns us to keep away from such sinful desires, because they “war against your soul.” You’ve been called into Christ’s wonderful light to declare his praises. Sinful desires will only drag you back to the darkness. Peter urges us to let our lives declare God’s praises. “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” Jesus had instilled in his disciples an awareness that he could return at any moment. The early Christians had that belief too. We are closer to the last day than they are. Christ is coming soon, and a time will come when you and I will have to stand before the holy God. And what will he see? What will he declare about us: sinners living in the dark, or holy, chosen, royal priests? He will see what Jesus did for us. And that will be reflected in our lives. Through faith in Christ, we let our lives “declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
What a sweet sound it must be to God’s ears when he hears us join our voices and sing his praises. What a pleasant thing it must be when believers send God prayers filled with adorations and thanksgivings. Praises to God are good and pleasing to him. But so are praises about God to others. It is one of our greatest privileges in life to tell others of the Lord’s wonderful deeds, how he swallowed up death, how he devoured hell, how he overcame the devil, how he opened the gates to paradise.
But our decisions declare his praises. Our priorities declare his praises. The use of our time and talents and money declare his praises. We declare his praises at home, at work and in society in all we do.
People might ask you, “Why do you read your Bible?” The Bible keeps me in the light, or it brighten my life with His light, you may answer. Or, “Why do you tell others about Jesus when you may be persecuted?” Jesus wants other to live in that light. And so you speak about Jesus who changed your life, who lived obediently for you, who died innocently for you, who forgives your sin and has opened heaven for you. Then you can watch as maybe the Lord uses even your weak and stumbling praise to change the hearts of an unbeliever, or the religiously careless.
Your life has purpose. Your life has meaning and can make a difference in the life of another. Your life proclaims praise to God!
Someone has said, “You may be the only Bible people ever read.” Someone else said, “The best sermons are preached when people walk about the door and live their lives.” Our lives may not teach the gospel of Jesus Christ, so we must take the time to teach and preach and explain the good news of Jesus to others. But your life as a reflection of Christ’s love does open the door to share the gospel with many others who need the light of God’s love in their souls. You are special people: you live in the light of God’s love. You have a special purpose: you live to declare his praises. Amen.