“But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.” (1 Peter 2:9 MSG)
Three tiny phrases tell the story of what happened to you when you became a “believer” in Jesus.
First, you went from night to day. We still use the phrase “Light dawned” to express the idea of a new discovery. You see it in cartoon strips where a little light bulb pings into life when the character has a moment of sudden realisation.
And that’s what happened to you and me. You discovered Jesus. He spoke to you. And nothing could ever be the same again. The “light of the world came into our darkness, opened my eyes, let me see…”
Second, you went from nothing to something.
It’s a funny thing, but when my wife is away (or I’m away from her), my motivation level dwindles away to nothing. I turn from Arnold Schwarzenegger into Mr Blobby. The do-it-all hero becomes the incompetent do-nothing.
But when we are reunited, suddenly everything is different. Not only is everything achievable, but suddenly everything gets done.
It’s the motive power of love.
It takes you from nothing to something, when you’re with Jesus. He has the power to motivate your life into new and unimaginable patterns of creative expressions. Love does that, every time.
And third, you moved from rejected to accepted.
I used to work in Quality Control in a factory. It meant that upon due examination of the goods we might notice some discrepancy between what should be there, and what was there. And so, we stamped “Reject” on the accompanying white label.
And that’s what life did to you, before you met Jesus. Think of how inadequate Zaccheus felt, (in Luke 19) peering down from the branches of his tree as Jesus approached. You can fool all the other people but not yourself. If you’re a scammer, you know it.
Or think of the woman taken in adultery (in John 8), or Nicodemus (in John 3) or the woman with the issue of blood (Mark 5)… Time and again, Jesus met society’s “rejects” and simply accepted them. He healed them, sometimes in their bodies (if necessary) but always in their broken and wounded inside selves.
There’s an old song with the line: “I’m accepted, I’m forgiven. I am loved by the true and living God…” Here it is:
I’m accepted, I’m forgiven
I am fathered by the true and living God
I’m accepted, no condemnation
I am loved by the true and living God
There’s no guilt or fear as I draw near
To the Saviour and Creator of the world
There is joy and peace
As I release my worship to You, O Lord
And all this is just the prelude. Jesus made a “night-and-day difference…for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.” Some people become almost fixated on the Before and After Moment, but there’s much much more. You start with the acknowledgement of who you now are: a Something, an Accepted son or daughter of Daylight! And then, finally, you come to the realisation of what that means; that “you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him…”
This is the destiny of your own high calling.
In The Prince and the Pauper, Tom Canty (the pauper who has been mistaken for the prince) finds it all but impossible to accept the honour and privilege to which he has unexpectedly been admitted. But with you it’s not a trick or an accident. You have been “made” an heir. You have been “adopted” into a royal family. These are facts of history, not the vague ambiguities of wishful thinking.
“God didn’t get you in a Billy Graham job-lot” (as Gerald Coates used to say). He didn’t look at you and roll his eyes at the impossible task ahead of Him. On the contrary, “You are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him….”
There are things you are called to do (“priestly work”) and a mutual lifestyle which you are invited to share (“to be a holy people”). That means you are specifically dedicated by God to this task.
And it’s simply no use whinging about it, or even saying that you don’t deserve the honour. Of course you don’t! Everybody knows that! But it’s a little self-referential -perhaps even self-important- to go on and on about your own inadequacies. When Isaiah was summoned (in Isaiah 6) to this task of sharing, it was the first thing he said. “Woe to me, for I am a man of unclean lips…” That is to say, “How can I speak for you, when my own speech leaves so much to be desired?” But God dealt with it, swiftly, decisively, and then reiterated the summons.
And God’s work for us in the cross of Christ is the swift and decisive death-blow to the sin that would disqualify us for God’s presence.
For our task is “priestly.” That means that we are called to take our stand between earth and heaven and proclaim each to the other. We explain -through the medium of our own small life-stories – just how God has worked in our lives. And we do it calmly, intelligently and humbly, becoming stained glass windows through which God’s glory can shine.
And if someone says, “Oh, that’s beautiful!” we know full well that it is only the power and beauty of the sun shining through.
And second, we represent the people of earth to their Creator through our prayers, our love and our tenderness. It’s not rocket science. As the prophet Micah put it, long ago:
“But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do,
what God is looking for in men and women.
It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbour,
be compassionate and loyal in your love,
And don’t take yourself too seriously—
take God seriously.” (Micah 6:8)
Lord, fill us with that grace today, so to speak that others hear something of you; so to act, so to be, with our friendly faces and welcoming smiles; that folks look at us and honour you.