Each month we’ll be hearing from one of our Regional Ministers, to encourage us along the way as we continue empowering missional disciples in our communities across the West of England.
This year The Guardian newspaper have been running a series of autobiographical stories, each of which begins with the words: ’A moment that changed me.’ In each of these, the subject reflects on a life experience and the difference it has made to them.
In his first letter, the apostle Peter writes to Christians scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia (pretty much most of modern Turkey). He talks of the experience that changed their lives and of their transformed circumstances.
He writes, ‘Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy’ (2:10). Now, ‘…you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light’ (2:9).
Many of the Christians that Peter was writing to were Gentiles (and were therefore banned from entering the Temple*). What a change of circumstances: those who previously were banned from entering the Temple have now become priests – declaring the praises of God and serving his purposes in the world!
Let’s be clear here, Peter isn’t describing the local Women’s Institute – these are people who’s lives were seriously messed up. He says of them, ‘…you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry’ (4:3). These are the people Peter describes as ‘The King’s priests’ (as one translator puts it). Their lives have been turned around. They are no longer citizens of darkness, but instead dwell in the radiant light of God (2:9).
But let’s not forget – their experience is also our experience! The same gospel message that turned the Mediterranean world upside down is the message that continues to change our lives today. It’s the same message that has the potential to transform the lives of your neighbours, your family, your friends and your colleagues!
So, let’s live into this reality as we seek to serve God in the west of England. Let’s seek to live as ‘The King’s priests’- as a royal priesthood. Day by day living as those who declare the praises of God (who God is – what God has done – and what God is able to do, today and tomorrow!).
‘Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God…
Now, ‘you are a chosen people and a royal priesthood…
(so) that you may declare the praises of him
who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.’
*(except for the distant, outer court of the Gentiles)