1 Peter 2:9 “But 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.”
If God has forgiven all of our sins for Jesus’ sake, if he has declared that not a single mistake stands against us, then we must look different to him than we did before. This is why he starts referring to us with terms of endearment like “children,” or terms of respect like “saints,” in the Bible. It’s not that we have stopped sinning, or that our old sinful nature is any less real, or any less bad, but with all our sins forgiven God holds a different image of us in his mind now.
And he invites us to start looking at ourselves the way he sees us. Peter says that you are a chosen people. That is a powerful statement of how God feels about us. Why is it that children take it so hard when they are chosen last for a team, or not chosen at all? Why is it that adults take it so hard when they lose an election? Is it not because there are feelings of rejection here? It seems as though nobody likes us or wants us. Our election by God is more than a cold, hard fact, like some mathematical principle. We are people that God wanted to be his own. We are the desire of his heart.
You are also a royal priesthood. To have God declare us royalty makes all the difference in the world. Royalty rules. God’s royalty rules all things. It isn’t always obvious to us, it isn’t even usually obvious to us, but as God’s royalty we rule and all things serve us–all things! Jesus promises his kings and queens by faith, “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.” Paul assures us, “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” The letter to the Corinthians pledges, “All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future–all are yours, and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.”
As royalty, nothing and no one stands above us in our relationship with God. As priests, no one stands between us and God. Each and every priest, each and every Christian, can take his needs, or his requests, or his service to God directly since Jesus has given us all direct access to the Father.
Again, by forgiveness and faith, you are a holy nation. You are purer in God’s eyes than the most sterile environment on earth could make you. And not only has the last whisper, the last trace of impurity been removed by Jesus’ holy blood, but as a holy nation you have also been set aside by God for his special purposes. There is nothing common, or ordinary about any of you. Do you have dishes at home that only come out for a very special meal, clothes in your closet that only come out for a very special occasion, heirlooms you use only under special circumstances? In a similar way God has made you his holy nation not for any run of the mill purpose in his creation, but to be holy means to be set apart, and the special purpose for which God has set you apart will be made more clear in just a moment.
Peter concludes his list by calling you a people belonging to God. God looks at you as his own treasured possession. Cruel images of slavery may get in the way of appreciating the privilege of belonging to someone else, so think of God’s claim on you this way: When children have a favorite toy, what do they do? They put their name on it and you drag it along everywhere they go. When adults have some favorite tool or utensil, what do they do? You put their name on it, and guard it a little, and don’t lend it out very willingly. Or this is even better: if you can find that one other person with whom you would like to share the rest of your life, what do you do? You put your ring on his or her finger. You claim him or her for life. You treat this one as your most treasured possession. When Jesus found you he put his name on you, and made you a Christian, and now he treats you like the dearest thing he has in all the world.
This new identity, this new image that God has given to us by grace, is not merely a potential. It is not something he hopes you will become someday. In Christ, by faith, this already is the Christian’s new look.