Scripture

1 Peter 2:1-10

Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.

 

The Living Stone and a Chosen People

As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For in Scripture it says:

“See, I lay a stone in Zion,
    a chosen and precious cornerstone,
and the one who trusts in him
    will never be put to shame.”

Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe,

“The stone the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone,”

and,

“A stone that causes people to stumble
    and a rock that makes them fall.”

 

They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 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.

Reflection

This passage provides the basis for a doctrine called the “priesthood of all believers.” Christians and non-Christians alike often think that God considers some workers more valuable than others, some professions more “called” than others. Pastors, priests, missionaries and other spiritual vocations are often seen as more important. People in those areas of service are seen as somehow closer to God than the rest.

But that’s not what we believe as Methodists and as Protestants. During the Protestant Reformation, the “priesthood of all believers” doctrine was developed. It was an influential concept that significantly altered the way many Christians understand themselves and their relation to God and others. Prior to the Reformation, the church taught that only clergy (ordained priests) had a sacred calling from God. But according to the Apostle Peter, all Christians, no matter their personal history, ethnicity, status, or occupation, are part of a “royal priesthood.” 

In Exodus 19:6 God tells Israel, “You will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” Although the people of Israel failed in this priestly calling, Christ restored us to our true identity as royal priests. In Him, we stand equal with one another, each of us with a vital role in carrying out God’s work. Work is sacred not because of the work we do, but because of the work of Christ in us. Each of us are called to allow Christ to work within us and then to work in our life in such a way that gives glory to God. We all bear responsibility for the future of our faith, for drawing others to Christ, for living a life worthy of this priestly calling.

What are you doing today to honor that calling? What would it look like if you thought of yourself as a “priest” every day?

Prayer

Dear God, rid my heart of hate and fear. Teach me to love like you. Help me see each person as a reflection of your love. Remind me that each of us is created in your image. Give me courage to reach out to others in love, to deepen my friendships, and start new relationships as well. You created us to live in community, to walk in love with our brothers and sisters. Help me live my life in this way. In Jesus’ name, Amen.