Revelation 1:5-6 “To him who loves us, and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power forever and ever! Amen.”
Are you proud to be an American? Maybe you take exception to some decision or other our leaders make. For the most part, though, we like being part of this nation. We are proud to live in the most powerful nation on earth. This is a nation that strives to stand for what is good in this world. It provides its citizens with the one of the highest standards of living. Our country has expended its resources and made great sacrifices to bring freedom and a better life to others. A sense of privilege goes along with being a citizen of the United States. Look how many citizens of other countries are trying to get in!
The citizenship Jesus has given us in his kingdom is a far higher one. Here we are all royalty. Even now you are a “blue blood,” a member heavenly nobility. The Apostle Peter echoes these same words in his first letter when he calls us a “royal priesthood.”
Because of our exalted position in Jesus’ kingdom, everything serves us now. God has promised that in all things he works for our good. The entire universe and everything that happens in it submits to us.
Are you fascinated by your family history? Have you traced your family tree or taken DNA tests to know who you are? By faith we are part of a royal family that traces its roots through Adam and Abraham, David and Daniel, Peter and Paul, and especially our dear brother Jesus. That’s our lineage, our heritage, our ancestry by faith. Jesus has ennobled you and me by making us part of his kingdom.
In that kingdom we all serve God as his priests. Before that is task or responsibility, it is a privilege. It means we have direct access to God. Sometimes people come to me as pastor and want me to pray for them. They believe I have some kind of “in” with God as a member of the clergy. They suspect I have God’s ear, that I have access in a way other people don’t. Don’t get me wrong. I’m happy to pray for anyone. But for Christians, pastors have the same special access Jesus has given everyone else. John doesn’t say Jesus made a few of us priests. He made a whole kingdom full of priests. We all enjoy this direct, individual, personal relationship with God. When you come to God he’s not going to say, “Who sent you? What are you doing here?” He welcomes you as one of the priests Jesus has called by faith.
Our priesthood is also a privilege because now God has entrusted his sacrifices into our hands. We don’t offer blood sacrifice anymore. Jesus made the sacrifice for sin once for all. But God has entrusted us with sacrifices of praise. We offer our bodies, not in a bloody way, but in an unbloody way. “Living sacrifices” Paul calls us in Romans. We make these offerings by sharing our faith with others. We serve by letting our hands and feet become God’s tools for loving those he has placed in our path. This is our sacrifice of praise, and we will continue to offer it long after we have left God’s kingdom of faith here to join him in his kingdom above.
America has no king and Americans don’t want one! We may be fascinated by the melodramatic lives of the monarchies in Europe, particularly the British royal family, but we aren’t eager to have the same scenes played out here. Ever since George Washington turned down the opportunity to be king with the words, “I didn’t fight George III to become George I,” we have been happy to be a nation without a king.
Jesus, however, doesn’t rule us by fear or intimidation. He didn’t force us to follow him at the edge of a sword or end of a gun. He won us to his kingdom by his love and made us its royalty by grace. We are proud to take our place in that kingdom, and give glory to the King we serve.