Long ago, God said to his chosen people, “You shall be to Me a kingdom of priests” (Exodus 19:6) After Christ claimed his place as eternal high priest, the apostle Peter said that believers constituted “a royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2:9). This transfer of honor and duty includes several responsibilities, including the reality that you are empowered to represent God.
Peter stated that the purpose of those in this new “royal priesthood” is “so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” What exactly does that mean?
For one, it contrasts dark and light, blindness and sight. Metaphorically, it also represents knowledge and ignorance. That’s the journey Christ takes us on. We’re born asleep, but He wakes us up. We open our new eyes to see things as they really are. We gain understanding beyond our limited minds. It is, to break down the Greek word translated “marvelous,” amazing, wonderful, extraordinary, and passing human comprehension.
We are allowed to walk this path because we are “called.” That term also means “invited.” It is an invitation to everyone, because God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). But the nature of an invitation means that people are not forced to respond. That would be a summons, not an invitation. He calls, but it’s up to each person to answer. By demonstrating to people our transformation upon accepting this invitation, we extend His call to them. In a sense, we’re telling people about the greatest party to ever take place and giving them a personalized invitation to join us.
Who has extended this invitation? Jesus Christ, of course. Our eternal High Priest. The one whose “excellencies” impart a better way of thought, feeling, and action. He is good, morally excellent, and pure. Through Him, we experience these qualities. Anyone who has ever felt rotten, worthless, and dirty can appreciate the contrast He offers. To reflect Christ is not to heap guilt, condemnation, and judgment on others. It is simply to extol His excellence.
Note the verb used to kick off this whole mission: proclaim. We don’t whisper it. We don’t confine it to church buildings on Sunday morning. A proclamation is declared abroad, published for all to read, and spoken loud enough that anyone can hear it.
It has been said that our lives may be the only Bible some people ever read. Whether we like it or not, when we claim the name of Christ, people look for His reflection in us. While this may sound like bad news (and it would be if we were left to represent Him in our own power), it comes with a promise. Jesus said, “If I am lifted up from the earth, [I] will draw all men to Myself” (John 12:32). He said this foretelling His crucifixion, but the principle remains. If we simply lift Him up – in our triumphs, failures, and everyday life – He will draw people to Him.
We need not fear imperfection. It’s actually guaranteed, so why be shocked or discouraged by it? We simply need to repent of it, allow it to be a cause for spiritual growth, and continue the maturing process. It’s okay to admit our imperfections as long as we point to the One who is perfect. I believe that’s why Jesus went after the Pharisees so directly. They held themselves up as the pious ones, praying, “Lord, I’m glad I’m not like those sinners” (Luke 18:11). That’s a dangerous representation of God, because when we fail, we project a flawed God to the world. When we confess our weaknesses and proclaim Him as our strength, it bypasses our faults and exalts the Forgiver. A pretense of perfection puts the focus in the wrong place (on us) when we are called to the priestly role of publically putting the focus on Him. The best way to represent Him is simply to present Him.
Randy Robison talks more about The Age of Promise, this Tuesday on LIFE Today. Follow him on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. This is an excerpt from The Age of Promise. Copyright ©2018 by James Randall Robison. Published by Thomas Nelson, a division of Harper Collins. Used by permission.