As Followers of Jesus We Become His Priests. It’s Time to Start Acting Like It
Aside from sharing my first name, I like Peter in the Bible. His concise writing packs a lot of practical teaching into his two short letters. He writes to those who follow Jesus. He talks about us being priests.
Peter describes us in four ways: as “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation,” and “God’s special possession,” (1 Peter 2:9). While all four labels pack much value, I particularly like the idea of priesthood.
In the Old Testament, only select people could become priests. Priests had to come from the tribe of Levi, which ruled out everyone from the other eleven tribes.
In addition, they had to be a descendant of Aaron; this eliminated most of the rest of the tribe of Levi. Plus they had to be male, thus removing all women from consideration. Last they couldn’t serve until they turned twenty-five, making younger men have to wait.
That was quite restrictive. Either someone was in or not. There were no exceptions. Jesus changes all of that.
Under Jesus, spiritual service is not limited to a select few born under the right conditions or possessing certain credentials. In Jesus’s church the door to priesthood is thrown wide open. We are all eligible to be priests. In fact we are all priests by virtue of being his followers.
As priests we minister to each other and shouldn’t expect someone else to do the job for us. As priests we don’t need special clergy to serve as our liaison to God; we can approach God directly. Under Jesus the priesthood as a special ordained position becomes obsolete.
Instead the priesthood becomes normal, something we all should embrace as our calling.
Today’s paid ministers and pastors are an extension of the Old Testament priesthood, something Jesus effectively eliminates when he fulfills the Law of Moses. It’s time we start acting like his priests and stop expecting the clergy to do our jobs for us.
[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is 1 Peter 1-3, and today’s post is on 1 Peter 2:9.]
Read more about this in Peter’s new book, Jesus’s Broken Church, available in e-book, audiobook, paperback, and hardcover.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.
Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.
2 replies on “Do You Know You Are a Priest?”
Peter I have been in agreement with this for awhile and have had some resistance from others but stand my ground with you on this issue. How does Hebrews 10:25 apply to this if it does in some form or fashion Sir?
Jay, thank you for your thoughtful insights and question.
I think the resistance comes from those with a consumer mindset for church (or an unexamined perception of church practices). The idea of us being priests is too counter-cultural for them.
As far as the Hebrews, it doesn’t say go to church. It tells us to meet together. Though that can happen at church on a Sunday morning, it can just as well happen at a coffee shop, a restaurant, a park, our homes, or even a bar. In this light, may we never stop meeting together.