Our Common Identity27 August, 2016
“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvellous light.” 1 Peter 2:9
It’s fascinating when you look at various societies, religions or nations – how each of them would have their own elites: priests, bishops, gurus, saints, mystics, shamans, or holy man. These form a distinct class that’s set apart from the rest. They’ve special knowledge and access and accordingly, authority that’s exclusive to them which the rest of the populous do not have. Yet in the New Testament, Peter calls us back to the origins of God’s intention when He called Abraham out from amongst the nations to establish a people that would be unique upon this earth.
Peter gave three distinct descriptions of what the people of God should be distinguished by. The first is that we’re a “chosen generation”. To be chosen is to be assigned a destiny and call; to be a unique focal point of what God’s doing and to carry a clear assignment from heaven. The world loves the ONE chosen protagonist in the plot. The one who was bestowed with some divine gift to do something no one else on earth could do. What Peter does is to let us know that we’re ALL part of the chosen protagonist that God is raising up in our generation to make a difference and to steer the plot of the story He’s crafting. The Church must never walk in a state of being purposeless. Believers should never feel insignificant or inconsequential. Instead, we ought to know that we’re a CHOSEN generation.
At the same time, Peter wanted us to know that holiness is not something that belongs to an elite class. Holiness is meant to be a national identity for Christians. There was never meant to be a separation for what’s forbidden for the priesthood but permitted for the people. The standards of holiness is one and the same for all.
Finally, we’re called a “royal priesthood”. This perhaps is the hardest shift that needs to happen in our mindsets because this is so contrary to the system that we see all around us. Monarchies and royalty are typically passed down within family and bloodlines. You’re either born royalty or you’re not. Likewise, we see systems that are prevalent today whereby priestly ministries depend on genealogy. In India, we see the castes of the Brahmins as a special group given to priestly work. What’s more, the Old Testament seemingly proposes that the function of kingship and priestly ministry to be hereditary to peculiar families.
The order established under the Old Covenant was given to instruct us concerning what kingship and priestly ministry entails, but we must remember that Jesus came in the order of Melchizedek (Heb 7), which preceded the Levitical priesthood and the nation of Israel. He came in an order that’s both king and priest and it’s this that God now calls us to as believers.
Herein lies the uniqueness of the Christian faith – kingdom authority and revelation is available to every believer. Revelation is not given based on class difference but determined by one’s hunger and diligence in seeking. The abundance of stories within the Word of God makes truth equally accessible to a little child as it’s available to mature men and women. This is the nature of the Kingdom of God which the Lord has determined for it to be – that all would have access to Him without some human intermediary.
This is not to say that God has not placed people for unique functions within the Church. The 5-fold ministry is given as a function and not as a means of class division. The different ministries given in the Church are for the purpose of function so that when the whole Body comes together, we can become that chosen generation. God has a special prototype of nationhood that He wants to display to the world and bless it and it’s called the Church. May we all come to realise that we’re indeed a chosen generation, a royal priesthood and a holy nation, and to walk it out to a world that needs to see the Lord through us.
Pastor Lim Lip Yong