1 Peter 2:9 “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people who are his own, that you may tell others about the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”
Peter’s list describes our new status, our “identity” as those who believe in Jesus. Some parts of this involve things for us to use, but he presents most of this list simply for us to appreciate.
First, the Lord tells us that he has made us his chosen people. That reminds us of the special relationship he once had with the people of Israel. Now that relationship has been opened up. It is no longer the unique possession of one ethnic group. You can’t draw boundaries around it. It applies to all who are part of God’s spiritual house by faith.
Is it hard for us to see the value? Maybe it was easier for the Gentiles to whom Peter was writing to feel how important that is. He reminds them in verse 10, “Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people. Once you had received no mercy, but now you have received mercy.” Peter’s audience knew what it was like to be on the outside looking in. Maybe they weren’t even interested in what the Jewish religion had to say before Jesus was preached to them. But now that they had come to know the Lord, now that they knew the peace and comfort, the power and joy they had been missing, they knew what it means to be God’s chosen people.
Another part of our new status is simply to enjoy is being a holy nation. God doesn’t say you can be a holy nation. He doesn’t say you will be a holy nation. He says you are one. Even if we don’t act holy, even if we don’t feel holy, God has declared us holy. We are holy because Jesus has washed us clean with his own blood.
Peter calls us, “a people who are His own.” Once again, what can you do with that? All you can do is bask in it. All you can do is drink it in and know how special God has made you. You are his own. You belong to him. Ordinarily, the idea of belonging to someone else doesn’t appeal to independent, freedom loving people. But until we belong to God, we never really know what freedom is. That might sound like a contradiction, but the believer understands. Only after the gospel has captured our hearts, and we understand what it means that Jesus has purchased us from the slavery of sin and death; only after the strangling chains of guilt have been torn away by the cross, do we live our lives in the freedom Jesus promised when he said, “if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” It’s a freedom that belongs only to those who belong to him.
As living stones in God’s spiritual house, we enjoy this glorious new status. But one feature also provides something to put into action. Peter calls us a “royal priesthood.” Earlier in his letter he explained, “You are holy priests who bring spiritual sacrifices that God gladly accepts through Jesus Christ.”
This forms the foundation for the New Testament teaching of the universal priesthood of all believers. In the Old Testament God established a special class of priests who stood between himself and his people. They offered the prayers and sacrifices on behalf of everyone else. Their presence served as a reminder of the way in which sin separated the people from God.
Today Jesus has become our once-for-all sacrifice for sin. We can come to him directly to offer our prayers and lives of service as a spiritual sacrifice to God.
Sometimes the term “privilege” gets used as criticism of the people the envious perceive to possess unfair advantages. We Christians have a privilege that is purely a matter of God’s grace, one to embrace without shame, in the status or identity he has given by making us his own.