Reflections: To be a royal priest
“I don’t know why we’re part of this church but God seems to have us here.” Hearing that statement recently made me ask why anyone is part of a church at all.
First, God says tells us why we should gather. “…let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another…” (Hebrews 10:24-25) Do we, the church encourage one another?
Second, being part of a church means growing in our understanding of God’s Word and how it applies to our lives. “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus… preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.” (II Timothy 4:1-2) As we experience growing pains, do we guide each other with great patience?
Third, we are to greet one another warmly. Paul closes some of his letters to various churches with the following instructions: “Greet one another with a holy kiss.” (I Corinthians 16:20) I’ve know Muslims who were drawn to Christ in part, because of the love they saw among Christ followers. Do we show genuine love for one another?
Fourth, we are to gently help those who fall. “Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:1) This verse means no gossip, no looking down our noses or judging, but gently restoring and encouraging one another in our life struggles.
Fifth, we are to be unified. “Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:1-3 and 31-32). These verses are truly packed with very clear directions. Are we a people of gentleness and patience or of bitterness and anger?
Note that these verses say nothing about the physical logistics of the church; chairs, who does repairs or how coffee is served. Instead the church is to be about the spiritual matters of how we live out and grow in our faith as we disciple one another. I recently heard this question: “If everyone in your church was just like you, what kind of church would you have?” Can ‘one person’ make a difference? I believe that if every ‘one person’ made the effort to live by these Biblical directives, the growth of Christ followers would explode. We are called to see other Christ followers the way Peter described them. “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,” (I Peter 2:9).
The church is called to love others instead of being self-focused. We are called to be peaceful in contrast to our despairing world and united in contrast to our increasingly divided world. When we worship on Sunday, let us interact with our fellow royal priests with love and compassion.
Helen McCormack and her husband, David, are members of Wycliffe Bible Translators serving from their home in Minot.