The Church: Privileges, Mission, and Motivation (1 Peter 2:9)
The Church’s Privileges
A Chosen People refers to the special affection and saving love that God has sovereignly set on those whom He has added to the Church through Christ. Though we are all unworthy, and were enemies and rebels by nature, He chooses us despite all that we are and pours out His saving grace on us in order that we might all be to the praise of the glory of His grace.
A Royal Priesthood refers to the privilege we have of being entirely consecrated for service to the King and of having free access to the King. Rather than a priest that enters into the Holy of Holies in the temple to represent the people of Israel so that the people wouldn’t enter and die, Christ enters into the Holy of Holies as our forerunner so that we will follow Him there, offering ourselves as acceptable sacrifices to God through Jesus Christ.
A Holy Nation emphasizes the Church’s privilege of reflecting the holy character of God. If we are living in a way that is not in agreement with God’s character, then we are saying to the world look at us to see what God is like, and yet we are giving them a distorted picture of God’s character. We are called to be different than the world, but being different just for the sake of being different is prideful. We are to be different because Jesus is different, and we are in pursuit of Him.
A People for God’s own possession demonstrates God’s delight in his ownership over us. Paul prays that Christians would know “what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints” (Ephesians 1:18). The Church is Christ’s inheritance, His rich and glorious possession for eternity to come. While by nature we are neither rich nor glorious, He considers us a treasured possession in whom He delights because in every believer He sees the beauty and the glory of His grace reflected in our redemption by His blood.
– Peter was writing to churches that were facing many different kinds of trials and suffering. Knowing the privileges that God has given us as the Church, how should it affect the way we respond to trials or opposition?
The Church’s Mission
The Church has been given these wonderful privileges in order that we may proclaim the excellencies of Christ. Since Peter is speaking of the church in unambiguously collective terms (race, priesthood, nation, people), we can understand that a Christian not only enjoys fellowship with Christ, but is also joined to His people. While our relationship with Christ is personal and individual, it also extends to our relationship with one another as fellow believers. Since the Church as a whole is scattered throughout all nations and all time, the fellowship that we are called to have with one another is carried out in the context of the local church, which is a representation and an outpost of the heavenly Kingdom to which we belong.
And it is the local church that is to carry out the responsibility of proclaiming the excellencies of Christ. Peter doesn’t specify to whom we should proclaim His excellencies, but we can take him to mean that we are to proclaim His excellencies to everyone, all the time, forever. This is the heart of the church and the end of all that we do. When our mission as a church becomes about anything less than this, then we will inevitably end up praising what we believe to be our own excellencies rather than the excellencies of Christ. To praise His excellencies is not just our mission now, but it will be our mission throughout all eternity.
– Why is it important that we understand proclaiming the excellencies of Christ to be the mission and the heart of the local church? How does it affect how you view the church?
– What are some specific ways that you will make known the excellencies of Christ this week to your family? To other believers? To your friends? To your coworkers? etc.?
The Church’s Motivation
Apart from the mercy of God, we would all be lost in darkness still, separated from God, willingly ignorant of Him, dead in our sins, and destined for eternal destruction. But in demonstration of His incredible mercy, God has called us out of that darkness and has brought us into the marvelous light of fellowship with Him. He has taken us out of the dungeon of sin and eternal misery, and has transferred us into the Kingdom of His beloved Son. At all times, in suffering or prosperity, the reality of His saving work for and in us gives us ample motivation to proclaim His excellencies.
– Those who are not hoping in Christ continue to dwell in darkness. However, He is able and willing to save all who will call upon Him because He Himself descended into the darkness of the cross, where He willingly took our place beneath the wrath of God. Have you seen the excellencies of Christ? Are you hoping in Him alone for salvation?